Minutes after Neera Tanden withdrew her bid to become White House budget chief, House Democratic leaders sprang into action to push for their preferred second choice.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) issued a unique joint statement on Wednesday backing Shalanda Young on Wednesday to lead the Office of Management and Budget after Tanden’s nomination sputtered in the Senate. Their support for Young to take the top job dates back to before President Joe Biden nominated Tanden, but the resumption of the House Democratic leaders’ pro-Young campaign on Wednesday exerts notable public pressure on the White House.
In their Wednesday statement, the trio of Democratic leaders said they “take great pride” in advocating for Young, touting her experience as a longtime aide for the House Appropriations Committee.
“We have worked closely with her for several years and highly recommend her for her intellect, her deep expertise on the federal budget and her determination to ensure that our budget reflects our values as a nation,” they said.
The three leaders were huddling on a separate issue Tuesday night when they learned Tanden’s nomination had been pulled. They decided to immediately reach out to the White House, trying to get both Biden and a top aide, Steve Ricchetti, on the line. They were unsuccessful at first, leaving a message for Ricchetti, but Pelosi and Biden eventually talked on the phone, according to a source familiar with the call.
The top Democrats’ public endorsement before the White House has even announced a replacement is unusual but was done to further increase pressure on Biden’s team to pick Young, according to aides with knowledge of the decision.
“Her legislative prowess, extensive knowledge of federal agencies, incisive strategic mind and proven track record will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris Administration,” they said in their statement Wednesday. “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.”
The three leaders have also privately lobbied for Young to get the job, pitching Young for director even before Biden nominated Tanden, the CEO and president of the liberal Center for American Progress.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Tanden noted that it was clear she lacked the Senate support needed for confirmation after at least one moderate Democrat opposed her nomination over her record of criticizing both Republicans and progressives on social media. Biden said Tanden will still serve a role in his administration but did not specify the position.
Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn said in their statement Wednesday that Tanden is “an outstanding public servant who has dedicated decades to fighting to advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.”
“We know that she will continue to bring her progressive values, bold vision for the future and valuable perspective to Democrats’ work to Build Back Better,” the House Democrats said of Tanden.
Both Democrats and Republicans praised Young on Tuesday during her first confirmation hearing to be deputy director. She is still expected to appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday for her second vetting, a committee aide confirmed.
Young has extensive knowledge of federal spending after 14 years on the House Appropriations Committee, most recently serving as clerk and staff director.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel, has already said he would support Young if Biden were to nominate her for the director post. Other Republicans agreed on Tuesday.
“You’ll get my support, maybe for both jobs,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Young during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee.
“Everybody who deals with you on our side has nothing but good things to say,” said Graham, ranking Republican on the Budget panel. “You might talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it.”
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.