Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont on Wednesday confronted Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to lead the White House budget office, over her “vicious attacks” on progressives — including himself.
“Of course, your attacks were not just made against Republicans. There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally,” Mr. Sanders said at Ms. Tanden’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee.
Ms. Tanden said she feels bad about her past social media habits, as she did Tuesday when she was confronted by members of a different committee about her attacks on Republicans.
“I apologize to people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said,” she said. “Social media does lead to too many personal comments and my approach will be radically different.”
Mr. Sanders, the new chairman of the committee, also said he was concerned about the millions of dollars in corporate donations the Center for American Progress, Ms. Tanden’s liberal think tank, has received in recent years.
She said those donations would have no effect on her decision-making as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the panel, read some of Ms. Tanden’s past criticisms of Mr. Sanders, including: “Oddly, when Russia was trying to elect Trump they did not attack Bernie Sanders — they chose to help him.”
“Her scorn was not limited to Republicans,” Mr. Graham said.
Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, said he was disturbed by some of Ms. Tanden’s past attacks, which include likening Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Voldemort, the villain from the Harry Potter books.
“The comments were personal,” he said. “I mean, you called Sen. Sanders everything but an ignorant slut.”
“That is not true,” said Ms. Tanden.
Mr. Kennedy repeatedly asked whether Ms. Tanden meant her past attacks.
“Senator, I must have meant them but I really regret them,” she finally said.
“I want the record to reflect that I did not call Sen. Sanders an ignorant slut,” Mr. Kennedy then said.
“I don’t know how I should take that, Sen. Kennedy,” Mr. Sanders replied.
The 69-year-old Mr. Kennedy almost certainly was referring to a recurring joke during the “Weekend Update” segment on the late-1970s original cast of “Saturday Night Live.”
Ms. Tanden was a top defender of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was squaring off against Mr. Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.
In April 2019, Mr. Sanders sent a harsh letter to CAP’s board after its affiliated blog made light of his millionaire status.
“Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas,” he said then. “This counterproductive negative campaigning needs to stop.”
Ms. Tanden’s nomination appeared to be on the rocks last year after Republican senators swiftly expressed opposition.
But after Democrats swept the two Senate runoffs in Georgia last month, the party will be able to muscle Ms. Tanden’s nomination through without needing GOP support.
Democrats say Republicans are the last people who should be griping about mean tweets, given the lengths to which congressional Republicans would go to feign ignorance about former President Donald Trump’s perpetual social media broadsides over the last four years.
“A lot of people have said a lot of things on social media, probably people in this room, that they regret,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.