Manchin Says No To Tanden Nomination
Manchin Says No To Tanden Nomination
The most powerful man in the Senate isn’t Chuck Schumer or Mitch McConnell. It’s Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
You see, with Republicans holding 50 seats in the Senate post-Georgia, and Democrats holding 50 seats in the Senate, it means that if both sides vote as a bloc, then Kamala Harris breaks the tie, giving the Democrats the majority.
Notice the word, “IF.”
This is how Joe Manchin is the most powerful senator. You see, if he does not vote in a bloc with the Democrats, then Kamala Harris doesn’t get to cast a tiebreaker vote, because 51-49 is not a tie. Kyrsten Sinema is also learning this lesson from Manchin, and could quickly become the most powerful woman in the Senate. Now, this is not to say that both Manchin and Sinema aren’t going to stop being Democrats. They both voted to convict Donald Trump twice in impeachment trials. The only legislation that they have made any noise about opposing deals directly with either the filibuster or court-packing, which has kept those issues off the table for the Democrats. And they have pretty much rubber-stamped every single cabinet nominee that Biden has nominated.
At least, until today.
Remember Neera Tanden, who was Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget? She is… how should I put this… not a nice person. She has a whole host of ethical issues that she has never fully dealt with or apologized for, and – most importantly – for someone who is definitely a left-wing progressive, she picked very public fights with the living patron saint of the American socialist left, Bernie Sanders. And who was the ranking Democrat on the confirmation committee that Neera Tanden had to address? That would be Bernie Sanders.
Let’s just say that Tanden’s confirmation hearings were not good moments for her.
CLIP: Exchange between Senator Kennedy and OMB nominee Neera Tanden.@SenJohnKennedy: "You called Senator Sanders everything but an 'ignorant slut.'"
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 10, 2021
Tanden was forced to eat quite a lot of crow very publicly, and she deserved every mouthful. But it was clearly in pursuit of that sweet, sweet government position as director of the OMB.
Well, today we learned that it wasn’t enough crow for Joe Manchin, whose vote Neera Tanden could not lose.
MANCHIN opposes @neeratanden for OMB chief: “I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the OMB. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination.” pic.twitter.com/6ZXSrZM9UJ
— Katherine Doyle (@katiadoyl) February 19, 2021
The Biden administration has no intention of pulling her nomination.
The White House remained undeterred Friday evening, reiterating its support for Tanden. Asked if he would pull her nomination, Biden said, “No.”
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Tanden “an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director.” The statement said the White House is looking forward next week’s committee votes “and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties.”
The only way that Tanden would be confirmed at this point would be to get a Republican to support her. The odds of that happening? Zero. You see, Tanden alienated the Republicans that she might have been able to swing a long time ago, like Susan Collins. So, with Manchin very loudly proclaiming his “no” vote, there is widespread acknowledgement that Tanden’s nomination is about to be denied, despite the happy spin that Jen Psaki is trying to slap on this announcement. There is no extra “yes” vote to be had for Neera Tanden to be found anywhere on the Republican side, and there is no incentive for any Republican to do so, especially if Manchin, as a Democrat, is voting against her.
Now, you would think that because Neera Tanden has annoyed enough of the hard socialist left, that Manchin would have a free pass here. Nope.
I have no idea if Neera Tanden is the best choice for OMB. What’s enraging is that one senator from the president’s own party thinks it’s OK to deny Biden his choice. And Manchin will escape punishment because if he jumps parties, McConnell is back in charge.
— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) February 19, 2021
Notice the double-edged sword being acknowledged in the above tweet. Manchin is “embarrassing” the Biden administration by voting no, and yet they all realize that they can’t retaliate against Manchin, for fear that he will switch parties. Honestly, I don’t think they have to fear that, because Manchin is enjoying the position that he now occupies. If he switches sides, he loses that power. Better to sit in the middle, playing each side as he sees fit, than committing to the other team in the middle of the game. Manchin is not up for reelection until 2024, and he’s already been governor of West Virginia. He is exactly where he wants to be, and he has all the political capital that he could want. Both sides need him. Neither side can risk alienating him.
And if Joe Manchin says that he’s not going to vote to confirm Neera Tanden to the OMB director position, then Team Biden had better start looking for a new nominee.
Featured image: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), official portrait, cropped, public domain