Biden deputy budget nominee Young praised by Republicans, White House keeps door open

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shalanda Young, a top contender to become President Joe Biden's budget director after the White House withdrew its nomination of Neera Tanden, won praise from Republican lawmakers on Thursday for her ability to work across the political aisle.

"These days wide bipartisan support is rare, but when Senators Graham, Leahy, Sanders and Shelby agree, either we're in a some sort of weird space-time continuum or the nominee is exceptionally capable," said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, referring to Republicans Lindsey Graham and Richard Shelby and Democrats Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sander.

Cassidy spoke to introduce Young to a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing.

"Ms. Young is a qualified individual with a distinguished record in public service. I look forward to the committee and the Senate approving her nomination," said Cassidy.

Young, whom Biden nominated to be Tanden's deputy, should replace Tanden as his nominee for Office of Budget and Management director, say House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats, including the Congressional Black Caucus.

Tanden withdrew her nomination this week, after senators from both parties threatened not to vote for her because of her critical comments on Twitter.

Young, who was the first Black woman to serve as the staff director for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, could become the first Black woman to head the OMB.

The White House emphasized Thursday that Young wouldn't automatically get the top job of gatekeeper for the $4 trillion federal budget.

Biden clearly thinks highly of Young, and she would be acting director of the budget office if confirmed, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. However, she added, "There is a range of individuals in the country who are qualified for the job."

Young told senators she would work closely with Congress if confirmed for the deputy post, underscoring the importance and power of compromise to keep government functioning.

"My work on the Appropriations Committee taught me that both sides can compromise without compromising their values - even when that means that no one gets everything they want," she said.

Jeff Hauser, who heads the progressive Revolving Door Project, said Young was the leading candidate, but Gene Sperling, who held key economic posts in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Anne O'Leary, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and California Governor Gavin Newsom, were still in the running.

If Biden chooses another woman of color to head the Office of Management and Budget, and all remaining nominees are confirmed, his cabinet will be 46% female and 50% non-white, including Biden and Harris, according to Inclusive America, a non-profit that tracks diversity in government.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman)

03/04/2021 21:33

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