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Biden weighing "range" of OMB candidates after Tanden withdrawal

CBS News logo CBS News 3/5/2021 Audrey McNamara
a person posing for the camera: shalanda-young.jpg © Patrick Semansky/AP shalanda-young.jpg

President Biden is still deciding on a nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget after Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination on Tuesday, although Democratic leaders have pushed for Tanden's proposed deputy, Shalanda Young, to be considered for the top job. Additionally, some GOP lawmakers on the budget committee on Tuesday hinted she "may be sheriff" before Tanden withdrew.

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Asked why the president has not nominated Young for director, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday there are a "range of individuals in the country who are qualified for the job, so we'll leave (the president) the space and time to make a decision about who he'd like to nominate as a replacement for Neera Tanden."

The news comes just days after Tanden withdrew her name from consideration, suggesting there was no path forward for her confirmation, a setback for Mr. Biden's proposed Cabinet. Tanden had drawn ire from Republicans due to her history of partisan comments, and Democrats' razor-thin majority meant she needed every Democrat or some Republican support.

CBS News has confirmed that Biden's deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, and former White House economic advisor under Presidents Clinton and Obama, Gene Sperling, are being considered for the position.

If confirmed as deputy director of OMB, Young would fill in as acting director until another nominee is put forward. "The president thinks so highly of her he nominated her to be the deputy director of OMB, which is a very senior and significant job and role in the administration," Psaki said.

"I will reserve his space for him making his own decision about who is going to lead the budget department," she said. "We certainly know there's lots of support on Capitol Hill. And again, he thinks so highly of her he nominated her to serve in a senior role."

Young is a Democratic staff director for the House Appropriations Committee and well-respected on both sides of the aisle. Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said in a statement that they "take great pride in recommending" her for director. Some Republicans also offered praise during her confirmation hearing, and indicated that they'd be willing to consider her as nominee for the top role.

Republican Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy gave Young, who is from the state, glowing praise when introducing her at her deputy confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Psaki called Young an "incredibly qualified and well respected woman," and said the administration is "certainly hopeful Congress will move forward" on confirming her as deputy while they "go through the process of nominating a replacement for Neera."

The press secretary said the president isn't expected to announce his decision this week. "I would say our focus right now is on getting the nearly half a dozen cabinet nominees, including our nominee to be Attorney General of the United States, through Congress because those are essential roles we need to have in place leading those departments," she said.

Mr. Biden has nominated and appointed 25 people to serve in his Cabinet: the 15 heads of the executive departments, and 10 individuals who the president designates as cabinet-level — including Tanden as OMB. Only 13 of Biden's 23 cabinet-level nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed so far.

The Trump administration's refusal to acknowledge President Biden's victory, nor help with the transition, delayed the Senate's consideration of his Cabinet, as did Mr. Trump's second impeachment trial.

As Psaki noted on Thursday, the Senate has yet to confirm Merrick Garland, Biden's nominee for Attorney General, nor his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, or Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge.

In addition to OMB director, the Biden White House is also awaiting confirmation of four other Cabinet-level nominees: Michael Regan as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, Isabel Guzman as Small Business Administrator, and Eric Lander as Presidential Science Advisor.

Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed reporting.

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