Republicans seize Biden’s domestic political candidates as a Tanden nomination

As Neera Tanden’s appointment to lead the Office of Management and Budget depends on a thread as Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat, announced his opposition, many Republicans believe they will have more influence than ever to suppress some of Biden’s candidates, or at least use them in the coming weeks. sharp differences in energy, health and abortion between the two parties.

“I think our Republican colleagues are highlighting their ideological issues here, and they are more different here than they are on foreign policy issues,” said Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. “Here they want to lead the messaging and the arguments. They use their domestic political candidates as tools for that.”

Unlike many national security candidates who have gone through the ratification process and won overwhelming support at the start of Biden’s presidency, candidates from agencies such as Health and Human Services and the Department of the Interior are facing stronger opposition from outside groups and conservatives on the Capitol.

“It’s not some kind of concerted effort,” said Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “We didn’t have any discussions that I would know about any strategy. I think most people just weighed the candidates on the merits and let the chips fall where they could.”

Democrats say it is not uncommon for the first candidates in the administration to move faster and smoother, but because Democrats have no chance of making mistakes, fighting with candidates becomes a tighter call than some previous administrations.

“In general, over the short decade here, candidates for national security, whether the defense minister or the chief prosecutor, have a greater degree of respect because it is more of a bilateral sense to allow the president to choose their own candidate rather than their domestic politicians. said Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware.

The Biden administration has not yet lost a single candidate. The White House was clear in its support for Tanden’s nomination, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaskan Republican, left the door open in support of Tanden and told reporters on Tuesday that she would make a decision only after a vote in the Committee on Budgets and Homeland Security. Wednesday to move forward with the nomination.

But Tanden’s struggle to win support in the Senate, while unique, given the history of tweets attacking Republicans, also reflects how narrow the majority of Democrats are. Democrats cannot afford the mistakes of their own party, and if they do, Republicans need to make up the gap, which is harder to find than Biden’s latest candidates.

At the start of Becerra’s Tuesday confirmatory hearing, North Carolina Republican senior senator Richard Burr said bluntly, “They haven’t sold it yet.”

“I’m not sure if he currently has the experience or skills to do the job,” Burr said.

Senate Mitt Romney, an Utah Republican where public space issues have become politically easier in recent years, said he wasn’t sure if Haaland was the right person for the job.

“I have almost voted for the presidential candidates so far, but MEP Haaland and Neera Tanden are putting forward real questions and challenges,” Romney said.

Nor did Manchin, chairman of the Energy Committee, say he would support Haaland, who supported the Green New Deal when he was in Congress. This policy is not supported by Manchin himself.

“We need to end the hearing,” Manchin said. – I think he did well.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, did not say whether he would support Haaland or Tanden.

The next few weeks may be a test of whether the democratic leadership is able to hold the House of Representatives together as Republican attacks on candidates intensify and fewer Republican votes are available to correct democratic mistakes.

“It’s a narrow majority, 50/50 is pretty tight,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, about delicate math.

CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to the report.