Joe Biden has withdrawn Neera Tanden’s nomination as White House budget director, in the first big setback to the US president’s efforts to build out his cabinet.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Biden said he had accepted Tanden’s request to withdraw from the Senate confirmation process for the job, which is one of the top economic positions in the administration.
Tanden’s chances of securing approval from the upper chamber of Congress had been called into question after at least one Democrat in addition to almost every Republican signalled their opposition to her nomination.
“Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden that was published by the White House.
Biden said he had “utmost respect for Tanden’s record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and suggested that she would be tapped for another job in the administration.
Biden’s inability to secure Tanden’s confirmation was a rare misfire on cabinet selections by the recently elected president, who has managed to fill most of the top positions with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Her confirmation was jeopardised after Republican senators said she lacked the proper temperament for the job, citing a series of abrasive and partisan tweets that criticised them over the years.
Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, agreed with the Republican criticism, effectively dooming Tanden’s chances. In a last-ditch effort to save her confirmation, Tanden this week spoke to Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican senator who was still undecided, but those efforts appear to have failed.
As Tanden’s chances of confirmation faded, members of the Senate focused on possible replacements, with Shalanda Young, Biden’s choice to be deputy budget director, emerging as the frontrunner.
Gene Sperling, who served as director of the National Economic Council for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, had also been considered as a possible candidate for the job.