Biden to nominate Neera Tanden as first White House budget chief

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the liberal thinktank Center for American Progress, to serve as his first White House budget director, multiple people briefed on the plans told CBS News.

Two people familiar with the process also confirm the President-elect is expected to nominate Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. 

Rouse, 56, and Tanden, 50, would be the first women of color to serve in their roles, if confirmed. Tanden would be the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to lead the Office of Management and Budget. The office is responsible for an administration’s spending and policy plans — and everything from drafting a White House budget plan to writing arcane domestic policy and approving congressional testimony of most administration officials. 

The position requires Senate confirmation — a potentially arduous task for Tanden in the divided chamber given her penchant for sharply partisan comments in recent years on television and social media and her role as leader of one of Washington’s most prominent liberal thinktanks.

Aides to Biden did not respond to requests for comment. 

Tanden’s nomination is scheduled to be officially announced Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, when Mr. Biden also plans to announce Janet Yellen, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, as the first woman nominated to serve as treasury secretary, and also name other economic advisers.

Rouse previously worked as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration. The labor economist is currently Dean of the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

As head of the Center for American Progress, Tanden has served as leader of the professional home of dozens of Obama-era officials, several of whom could end up rejoining the federal government. She’s also a familiar face to TV news viewers as a frequent guest on national cable and Sunday morning programs.

And it’s those appearances that could contribute to a harder go of it for Tanden on Capitol Hill. 

“Neera Tanden, who has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators’ whose votes she’ll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed,” tweeted Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, on Sunday night.

Tanden previously served at the Department of Health and Human Services, as the domestic policy director for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, as a senior aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and as a domestic policy adviser to then-President Bill Clinton.

Several former White House budget directors have vaulted into far more prominent roles, including Leon Panetta, who held the role for Mr. Clinton; Joshua Bolten, who served under President George W. Bush; and Mick Mulvaney, who served in the role for President Trump. They all began as budget chief and later served as chief of staff. Others, including Jack Lew, who was President Obama’s second budget chief, later served as chief of staff and then joined the Cabinet as treasury secretary.

Ronald Klain, who is set to serve as Mr. Biden’s first White House chief of staff, did not confirm the of Tanden’s selection on Sunday night. But amid another official announcement of plans to hire an all-female White House communications team, he tweeted that the Biden team is on course to fill “100 slots in the WH by the end of December!”

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