Two U.S. Senate committees back Louisiana’s Shalanda Young as budget director
WASHINGTON — Two U.S. Senate panels voted Wednesday to send the nomination of Louisiana native Shalanda Young for White House budget director to the floor, setting up a final confirmation vote for the Cabinet-level position.
The Budget Committee voted 15-6 in the morning and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 8-6 in the afternoon, though the majority of the panels’ GOP senators voted against advancing her nomination.
Once confirmed, Young will become the first Black woman to lead the agency that releases the president’s annual budget request to Congress, oversees federal agencies’ performance, reviews major regulations and issues statements announcing whether the White House backs legislation.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the ranking Republican on the Homeland panel, voted for Young’s nomination, but said he won’t support her on the floor unless the panel gets documents it requested nearly a year ago.
“I am very frustrated that in this case we can’t get just the simplest documents that we’re asking for,” Portman said.
Portman said that he and Chairman Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, requested documents from the Biden administration coronavirus response coordinator and the Office of Management and Budget in March regarding the federal government’s COVID-19 response.
They also requested national security documents from the National Security Council and OMB regarding an issue he couldn’t discuss publicly.
Portman said the committee hasn’t received a single page in response to the national security request and is frustrated with the documents they’ve received on COVID-19.
“In total from OMB we’ve received fewer than 1,000 pages, most of which are publicly available letters and case counts. And every one of those documents is from the Trump administration or earlier,” Portman said.
The committee has received 14,000 pages of documents from the National Archives on a similar request, he added.
“I think it’s troubling, I think it’s a White House not being responsive to legitimate congressional requests or transparency,” Portman said.
Portman brought up the issue during Young’s confirmation hearing last week. At the time, she committed to working with him to get the committee the documents, but Portman said Wednesday he was frustrated he hadn’t gotten any more documents.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hasn’t scheduled a floor vote to confirm Young as director, though that won’t keep the Office of Management and Budget without a leader.
Young has been working as acting director since March, when the Senate voted 63-37 to confirm her to the deputy director role.
President Joe Biden originally nominated Neera Tanden, now White House staff secretary, for the top position. But Tanden withdrew after it became clear she didn’t have the votes for confirmation amid unified Republican opposition and concerns from some Democrats about previous policy positions and rhetoric.
Following Tanden’s withdrawal, numerous Democrats backed Young for the director role.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, said in a statement that Young leading “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.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn recommended Young for the director role in a joint statement, saying “her legislative prowess, extensive knowledge of federal agencies, incisive strategic mind and proven track record will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris Administration.”
At the Homeland and Budget panel hearings last week senators questioned Young, and deputy director nominee Nani A. Coloretti, on the dozens of issues OMB handles.
Several GOP senators indicated during the hearing they may not back Young’s nomination, based on prior statements about the so-called Hyde amendment.
The provision, first enacted in the 1970s, prevents the federal government from spending money on abortion access, with limited exceptions.
During her confirmation process for OMB deputy director, 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.” She added that she would follow the spending law, but that didn’t alleviate GOP concerns.
The answer, to written questions submitted by Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Lankford and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley following her confirmation hearing, caused a shift in Republican support.
That, however, wasn’t enough to scuttle her nomination, with 13 Republicans ultimately voting for her confirmation on the Senate floor.
Young is expected to get a similar level of GOP backing when this nomination heads to the Senate floor.