As a minute of the confirmation hearing, President Biden, the nominee for director of the White House Administration and Budget Office, Neera Tanden, had to address concerns about hostile tweets he had published against various Republican lawmakers.
The first Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee to ask Tanden, Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, immediately recalled Tanden’s entries, many of which he canceled late last year.
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“I think the tone, content and aggressive partisanship of some of your public statements has added to the worrying trend of increased inactivity and division in our public lives, and I find it worrying in your case that your personal attacks on certain senators make it difficult for you to work with them,” he said. Portman, noting that the director of OMB needs to work with members on both sides.
Portman later gave examples of “a few thousand negative public statements,” which Tanden said. These included calling Senate Susan Collins, R-Maine, the “worst,” and Senate Tom Cotton, the R-Ark “cheating,” saying “vampires have more hearts than Ted Cruz.” and referring to the then Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as “Moscow Mitch” and “Voldemort,” referring to the Harry Potter villain.
Portman said that even after Tanden deleted the tweets, there were still nine pages of posts about Cruz that were still upstairs.
“I wonder specifically how he plans to improve the fences and build relationships with members of Congress he attacked in his public statements?” Portman asked.
“I recognize the concern,” Tanden replied. “I am very sorry and apologize for my language – some of my previous languages. I recognize that this role is a bipartisan role and I know I need to earn the trust of senators. I will work very aggressively to address this concern.”
Tanden said he hopes he will work “in a bipartisan and non-partisan manner” while admitting that “I have to prove it to the committee and members.”
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Tanden later apologized directly for his comments.
“For those who are worried about my rhetoric and language, you know, I’m sorry and sorry for any injuries,” he said.
Portman referred to a report that Tanden deleted thousands of tweets after the November election and asked if he had done so because he knew he could stand in the administration.
“I deleted the tweets because I regretted my voice and I deleted the tweets for many months,” Tanden said. He did not say that he had removed the entries in view of his job.
Ron Johnson, R-Wis. He asked Tanden if he had any help from Biden’s transition team when he deleted the tweets. He insisted that no one advise him on this.
Tanden has not only been at odds with Republicans in the past. With Senate Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
During the 2019 presidential primary race, Sanders wrote a fiery letter to the American Center for Progress, led by Tanden, accusing him of “maliciously deceiving my co-workers and supporters and spoiling progressive thoughts.”
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The Vermont senator, a self-characterized Democratic Socialist, also criticized the video ThinkProgress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund that accused it of changing the rhetoric of wealthy Americans after becoming a millionaire in 2016.
Sanders is now chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, which will host Tanden for a confirmatory hearing on Wednesday.
Fox News Megan Henney and Paul Steinhauser contributed to the report.