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White House briefing: Biden administration standing by Tanden nomination for OMB

Jen Psaki
Posted at 12:15 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 22:33:15-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden still sees a path for Neera Tanden to be confirmed as the head of the Office of Management and Budget even though two moderate Senators have already said they plan to vote against her nomination.

"This is a process, we'll continue to support her nomination," Psaki said Monday.

Psaki’s statement came hours after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced she would not support Tanden’s nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, announced his opposition on Friday.

Still, Psaki said at the briefing Monday that the White House still sees a path to Tanden being nominated with 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreak vote. Psaki cited Tanden’s policy experience and her history of working with both Republicans and Democrats.

At her confirmation hearing, Tanden faced questions about tweets she’s sent in recent years in which she criticized Republican lawmakers. She’s since apologized and deleted thousands of tweets from her page.

Psaki also added during Monday’s briefing that President Joe Biden hopes to fly to Texas “as soon as this week” in order to view damage left behind by last week’s winter storms. Psaki said Bien was “eager” to travel to Texas to “show his support,” but was wary of the footprint and disruption a presidential visit could garner.

The briefing took place moments after Biden announced that he was expanding the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to offer more loans to businesses with less than 20 employees. Biden called that change a “first step,” and urged lawmakers to pass his administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

A final draft of that bill included a provision that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — a provision that some moderate Democrats have said they would not like to see included in the package. Congressional officials are currently investigating whether a minimum wage hike would be permitted under Budget Reconciliation — the process by which Congressional Democrats are attempting to pass the stimulus package.

Should parliamentarians conclude a minimum wage hike be allowed to be included in the stimulus package, Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration woud keep it in the bill despite objections from moderate Democrats.

"The president wouldn't have included it in the final package if he didn't want it in there.," Psaki said.

The briefing also came as the U.S. approached another grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic — 500,000 American deaths. Biden, the first lady, Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentlemen will all participate in a ceremony honoring those killed by the virus later this evening.