Drama for Biden’s Budget Nominee Shines Light on Deputy Pick
(Bloomberg) -- Bipartisan opposition to President Joe Biden’s budget director nominee, Neera Tanden, is drawing attention to his choice for the deputy role: a little-known House staffer named Shalanda Young.
Young has emerged as a strong contender for the top job at the White House Office of Management and Budget if Tanden fails to convince at least one Republican to save her nomination after West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin said he would oppose her.
The Congressional Black Caucus has said publicly that Biden should tap Young in the event that Tanden is not confirmed by the Senate. Young would be the second Black woman in Biden’s cabinet if she were promoted and confirmed.
The Senate Budget Committee will hear from Young on Tuesday to evaluate her nomination as the OMB deputy. She will go before the Homeland Security Committee on Thursday.
Falling short on Tanden’s confirmation would be a major political misstep for Biden and a reminder that his administration has no room for error in an evenly divided Senate. But having Young at OMB -- as the director or the deputy -- would bring practical experience and bipartisan goodwill to the budget process.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is one of the few Republicans who hasn’t publicly opposed Tanden and could rescue her nomination. Murkowski met Tanden Monday and later said she remained undecided.
In many ways Young, while politically aligned with Tanden, is her opposite.
Tanden drew opposition from Manchin and most Republicans in part for her sarcastic tweets. There is no evidence that Young has ever tweeted.
While Tanden has a long record of public advocacy for liberal positions as the leader of the Center for American Progress think tank, Young’s only known published writing is a 2004 academic paper on anthrax medicine when she was at the Rand Corporation.
Young, unlike Tanden, is a recognized expert on the budget and appropriations process.
As the top Democratic staff member on the House Appropriations Committee, she has been at the center of talks to finance the government since March 2017. Her responsibility increased when Democrats took over the House in 2019 and had to negotiate with Republicans and the Trump administration to end the longest shutdown in U.S. history over funding for a wall at the Mexican border.
That knowledge of Congress could come in handy as the Biden White House prepares its 2022 budget request next month and begins talks for a giant infrastructure package.
In her prepared remarks for the hearing, Young, highlights her relationships with members of both parties.
“My work on the Appropriations Committee taught me that both sides can compromise without compromising their values -- even when that means no one gets everything they want,” Young plans to say.
Former House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who retired last year, called Young a “shrewd negotiator.”
“She really understands the politics of various issues in our caucus on the Hill,” she said. “But she’s a realist. She shared my general approach, which is that you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Young is also earning plaudits from Republicans, like Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Appropriations Committee Republican.
“She is very competent, very professional,” Shelby, who opposes Tanden, said of Young.
A Senate GOP aide said Tuesday’s hearing would be an opportunity for the GOP to ask Young about her views on Biden’s agenda, including a $15 minimum wage, as well as single-payer health care, and Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders’ calls to cut defense spending.
Young, 43, grew up in rural Louisiana. She received a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University in New Orleans and a master’s degree in health administration from Tulane.
In her remarks for the budget hearing, Young will highlight her emphasis on educational opportunities, which she says her family has valued for generations.
“Somehow, even then, in the segregated South, my great-grandparents sent their child, my grandmother, to college,” Young plans to say. “All families deserve to see their children have that same opportunity to pursue their potential.”
In a 2019 interview with Bloomberg Government, Young said she was happy to bring a diverse perspective to the government funding battles.
“When you talk about representational government, I think people want those who work on these issues to look like Americans. Women are not all homogeneous, they don’t think the same way, racial groups don’t think the same way,” Young said. “However, the more diversity in all of those categories means we aren’t missing an entire group of Americans when we are making decisions on funding.”
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