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How politics works
Much of what you see is merely play-acting by politicians
President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, is meeting with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski today in a last-ditch effort to save her confirmation. Tanden so far has no Republican support in the Senate, and, as CNN reports, one Democrat, Krysten Sinema, and independent Bernie Sanders have not said whether they would support her confirmation.
Tanden cannot be confirmed without Murkowski’s support because Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced that he will not vote to confirm her as the director of the OMB. With the Senate split evenly between the Republican and Democratic caucuses at 50 senators each (Bernie Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats), Tanden now needs the support of one Republican to split the vote and send it to Vice President Kamala Harris to vote in favor of her confirmation as the tie-breaker.
The interesting players in this story, however, are Sanders and Sinema. Tanden has been a longtime critic of Senator Sanders and his supporters since he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 against Hillary Clinton, who Tanden supported. Sinema is a Democratic senator from a largely Republican state, Arizona. It seems to me that both Sanders and Sinema have declined to state how they will vote on Tanden’s confirmation because they are waiting to see if she has a chance of being confirmed in the first place.
If Tanden can get Murkowski’s support then Sanders and Sinema will be under intense pressure from Democratic leadership in the Senate and the White House to vote to confirm her, and I suspect they will. Sanders has shown over and over again that he’s willing to do what he’s told when push comes to shove, and I have no reason to suspect that Sinema is any different.
If, however, Tanden cannot get Murkowski to support her confirmation, and thus cannot be confirmed regardless of how they vote, then both Sanders and Sinema will come out and state that they also oppose her nomination for OMB director. Sinema will do so because Republican voters, if they know who she is at all, largely hate Neera Tanden, and Sinema has to cater to Republican voters in Arizona. Sanders will do so to appease his supporters who were regularly and viciously attacked by Tanden on Twitter.
In other words, both senators are, in my opinion, cynically waiting to see which way the wind blows so that they can take the most politically expedient position at the last minute. The only principle these people hold is the furtherance of their own careers and influence. If it serves them best to vote for Tanden they will, and if it serves them best to not vote for Tanden they won’t. This is how politics works.