Awkward moment Bernie Sanders confronted Biden’s nominee over her nasty tweets about him

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Oliver O'Connell
·3 min read
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management & Budget was confronted with her past tweets about Republicans and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for the second day as part of her confirmation hearing.

Appearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Neera Tanden faced famed progressive Bernie Sanders, Independent Senator for Vermont, with whom she has sparred before.

While the pair have shared goals, and Mr Sanders has said that he would support her nomination, they have a contentious relationship dating back to her support for Hillary Clinton, his challenger for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

In her opening statement to the committee, Ms Tanden said she regrets some of her past social media posts.

Mr Sanders reminded her that her social media remarks include not just snipes at Republicans, but also: “Vicious attacks made against progressives. People whom I have worked with… me personally.”

He continued: “As you come before this committee to assume a very important role in the United States government at a time in which we need serious work on serious issues and not personal attacks on anybody, whether they are on the left or the right, can you reflect on the decisions and personal statements you have made in recent years?”

Ms Tanden acknowledged that her remarks “caused hurt to people” and that she “felt badly about that”, adding: “I apologise to people on the left or right who have been hurt by what I’ve said.”

Moving on to policy matters, where the two share common goals, Mr Sanders asked Ms Tanden if she would commit to supporting a higher minimum wage, negotiating lower drug prices, lowering Medicare eligibility age, instituting free college tuition for the middle class, and taking action on the climate crisis.

Ms Tanden replied yes to all of those policies.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan called out Republicans about their newfound concern about mean tweets.

“We've endured four years of the ultimate mean tweets,” Ms Stabenow said. “I don't want to hold you to a higher standard but we certainly want to turn the page.”

Republican Senator Pat Toomey asked Ms Tanden, citing her tweets about Russian meddling, if she thought Donald Trump was legitimately elected. She replied affirmatively.

At a hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday Ms Tanden was also confronted by Republicans regarding her tweets.

Ohio senator Rob Portman, the leading Republican on the committee voiced his concern that personal attacks on specific senators may make it difficult for her to work with them.

He noted that in the past she has criticised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Susan Collins of Maine.

Mr Portman reminded Ms Tanden that she called Senator Collins “the worst”, said that Senator Cotton “is a fraud”, said that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz”, and called Senator McConnell “Moscow Mitch” and “Voldemort”.

He added that “there are still nine pages of tweets about Senator Cruz”.

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma noted that, more generally, she had called Republicans “criminally ignorant”, “corrupt”, and “the worst”.

Ms Tanden described herself as an “impassioned advocate” in her previous role, adding: “I understand, though, that the role of OMB Director calls for bipartisan action, as well as a nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence.”

While Ms Tanden's confirmation was in doubt when Republicans controlled the Senate, the results of the Georgia runoff elections have made her approval by the upper chamber much more likely with Democrats in control.

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