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House leadership pitches Shalanda Young for OMB director

Support for former House Appropriations aide grows after Neera Tanden's nomination was pulled

Shalanda D. Young, nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, is sworn into her Senate Budget Committee confirmation in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
Shalanda D. Young, nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, is sworn into her Senate Budget Committee confirmation in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The top three House Democrats on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to nominate Shalanda Young as his budget director.

Young, a longtime Democratic aide on the House Appropriations Committee, won praise from Republican and Democratic Senate Budget members during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday for the No. 2 slot at the Office of Management and Budget. And the top job at OMB is officially open now that Neera Tanden is out of the running.

Young’s “legislative prowess, extensive knowledge of federal agencies, incisive strategic mind and proven track record will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris Administration,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said in a joint statement.

Young’s name has come up frequently in connection with the top job at OMB, with calls growing louder after the White House pulled Tanden’s nomination on Tuesday night. Tanden, who runs the left-leaning Center for American Progress, withdrew herself from consideration after running into resistance from virtually all Senate Republicans and at least one Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III.

Young, who was the top Democratic aide on Appropriations since 2017 and a staffer on the panel since 2007, would be the first Black woman to lead OMB. Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn said in their statement that her leadership at the OMB “would be historic and would send a strong message that this Administration is eager to work in close coordination with Members of Congress to craft budgets that meet the challenges of our time and can secure broad, bipartisan support.”

Young is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. For now, that will be for Senate confirmation to the deputy director role.

She is likely to get similar bipartisan support in that panel to the kind to the broad backing she received from Budget members on Tuesday. “Everybody that deals with you on our side has nothing but good things to say,” Budget ranking member Lindsey Graham told Young. “You might talk me out of voting for you but I doubt it.”

Later in the hearing when the topic of opposition to Tanden came up, Graham said he’d back Young for either of the top two OMB positions. “You’ll get my support, maybe for both jobs,”

Tanden’s confirmation was unlikely from the start, predominantly due to years of tweets criticizing Republican lawmakers. Past tweets included calling Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “Voldermort,” referring to Maine’s Susan Collins as “the worst” and “vampires have more heart” than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

During the last few weeks the White House was attempting to get at least one GOP senator to support Tanden’s nomination to offset the loss of Manchin.

The Biden administration was also working to ensure they had the votes of other moderate Democrats, including Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. Also, Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., clashed with Tanden over politics and policy in the past and never said whether he would support her confirmation.

While Young is considered a top contender for the OMB director position, there are other names still in the mix as well. Those include Gene Sperling, a former top economic policy aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and aide to Hillary Clinton.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at her daily briefing Wednesday that a replacement for Tanden probably won’t be announced this week.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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