Bernie Sanders confronts Neera Tanden on ‘vicious attacks’ against progressives


Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont on Wednesday confronted Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to lead the White House budget office, for past “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 about her attacks on Republicans before a different panel.

She expressed regret to “Senator Sanders and other members of this committee.”

“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 “zero impact” 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.

Ms. Tanden was a top defender of Hillary Clinton when the former secretary of state was squaring off against Mr. Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary contest.

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.

“A lot of people have said a lot of things on social media, probably people in this room, that they regret,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota offered in defense of Ms. Tanden on Wednesday.

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