WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Shalanda Young for White House deputy budget director Tuesday, clearing the way for her to become one of the administration’s leading voices on fiscal policy.
The 63-37 vote will place Young as one of President Joe Biden’s top aides on government spending and regulations as the country begins to emerge from a global pandemic that so far has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $5 trillion.
Republicans mostly opposed Young, citing her opposition to the Hyde amendment — a decades-old provision in spending bills that prohibits federal funding for abortions with limited exceptions for rape, incest or the woman’s life.
In response to questions from Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that followed her confirmation hearings, Young wrote that “eliminating the Hyde Amendment is a matter of economic and racial justice because it most significantly impacts Medicaid recipients, who are low-income and more likely to be women of color.”
Her answer, which also included a commitment to follow the spending laws Congress approves and the president enacts, led many GOP senators to revoke their support for Young. Still, 13 Republicans voted to confirm her, many citing Young’s past work on bipartisan legislation as a House Appropriations staffer.
Young will begin her tenure as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, while Biden decides whom he’ll nominate for the No. 1 position on a permanent basis.
One of her first tasks will likely be finalizing the president’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year.
Those documents will let lawmakers see specifically how Biden wants Congress to address defense and domestic spending, infrastructure and other longer-term economic initiatives, entitlements like Social Security and Medicare and tax policy.
OMB tentatively plans to release a “skinny” fiscal 2022 budget next week, followed by a full budget submission in May, sources with knowledge of the planning said. The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the dates have been changing and are not yet locked down. OMB officials declined to comment on the reports.
Biden originally nominated Neera Tanden for OMB director, but she withdrew earlier this month after concerns from moderate Democrats stalled her confirmation process.
Tanden’s past comments about Republican lawmakers, including calling Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “Voldemort” and referring to Maine’s Susan Collins as “the worst,” led some Democrats to question whether she could become an effective OMB director.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III was the sole member of his party to publicly oppose Tanden, saying in a statement that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.”
After Tanden bowed out, a slew of Democrats wrote to Biden, urging him to nominate Young for OMB director.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C.,the Congressional Black Caucus and the New Dems Coalition were among those who have advocated for Young.
“Her leadership of the OMB would be historic and would send a strong message that this Administration is ready and willing to work with Congress to craft budgets that meet the critical challenges which face our nation, and can secure broad, bipartisan support,” CBC Chair Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said in a statement.
Young began working for the House Appropriations Committee more than 14 years ago, rising to the role of staff director in 2017.
During her time as the top aide for Democrats on the panel, Young helped lawmakers negotiate dozens of government spending bills and COVID-19 relief packages, all of which cleared Congress with bipartisan approval.
Her work on the spending panel led some Republicans to back her nomination, including Budget ranking member Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Appropriations ranking member Richard C. Shelby of Alabama.
Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy also supported Young’s confirmation, telling the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that getting a broad cross section of support is rare.
“Either we’re in some sort of weird space-time continuum or the nominee is exceptionally capable,” he said. “Because she’s from Louisiana, I know it’s the latter. She’s exceptionally capable.”
Other GOP senators voting to confirm Young included: Roy Blunt of Missouri; Richard M. Burr of North Carolina; Susan Collins of Maine; Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, both from North Dakota; John Kennedy of Louisiana; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; Alaskans Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan; and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa. Grassley’s vote came after he opposed the cloture motion to end debate earlier in the day.