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OPINION | OTHERS SAY: Umbrage at Biden pick silly for GOP

by The Washington Post | February 23, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, is in hot water. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced last week that he would oppose her nomination, meaning she needs at least one Republican vote to obtain Senate confirmation. Reports emerged Monday that Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, were unwilling to provide that vote. Tanden's problem? "Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend," Collins said. Or, as Politico quoted a source close to Romney as saying, she has "issued a thousand mean tweets."

Yes, Tanden has been undiplomatic. But the case against her confirmation is weak -- especially when you compare her with many past endorsements of Republican senators.

Republican opposition to Tanden because of her sometimes-tough tweeting reflects some mind-boggling hypocrisy. Republicans spent four years playing down and forgiving President Donald Trump's disgusting tweets. Not a single Republican voted against confirming Richard Grenell, Trump's ambassador to Germany, despite his history of Twitter trolling -- including nasty comments about the appearances of female journalists and world leaders -- which was far worse than Tanden's. Manchin voted to confirm Grenell, too.

Tanden is tapped to lead Biden's budget office, where it is important for the president to have an appointee who reflects his views. Is it unacceptable for the OMB director to be strongly partisan? Republicans didn't think so when they jammed through Mick Mulvaney, a co-founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, to be Trump's first OMB chair, despite Mulvaney's destructive opposition to raising the national debt limit and avoiding government shutdowns during Barack Obama's presidency.

It is not fair to hold Biden's nominees to a far higher standard because the president has called for unity while his predecessor denigrated it. Tanden should have been more civil in the past, like many people in Washington. But the Senate should approve presidents' picks to staff their administrations unless those picks are grossly unqualified. Tanden's long service in Washington, as a top player in Democratic politics and policy and as the head of a major think tank, makes her more qualified than Mulvaney.

For the most part, Republican senators thus far have been supporting Biden's nominations with admirable bipartisanship. They will only look silly if they allow some hurt feelings to get in the way now.


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