Neera Tanden named staff secretary for President Biden

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testifies during a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON – Neera Tanden was named the next White House staff secretary on Friday morning, Oct. 22, 2021, putting her in the nerve center of the building charged with overseeing the paper flow for President Joe Biden, according to a White House official briefed on the move.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain announced the move in a morning staff call.

She has been working for Biden since May and will also retain her current title of White House senior adviser, which has allowed her to advise the president on a wide range of issues, the person said.

Tanden will replace Jessica Hertz, a former Obama administration attorney who worked more recently in the government affairs office of Facebook. White House officials have praised Hertz as a highly regarded, well-liked member of the team.

Hertz will leave the job on Friday, a planned departure that was first reported by Politico last week, and Tanden will start on Monday, the official said.

The staff secretary, who reports to the chief of staff, traditionally plays the role of both traffic cop and honest broker in the White House, with control over the documents that make it to the president, whether they be briefing books or decision memos laying out the arguments on major decisions.

The White House staff secretary has often served as a steppingstone for other roles in government. Former White House counsel Harriet Miers, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former White House chief of staff John Podesta, a mentor for Tanden, have all previously held the job.

Tanden, an Indian American, will be the first woman of color to hold the position.

She is well known in Washington as a policy wonk and political strategist. She came to the White House from the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank, where she had served most recently as president and CEO and before that as a deputy to Podesta, the think tank’s founder.

Biden nominated Tanden last year to become his director of the Office of Management and Budget, but the White House withdrew her nomination in March after it became clear that she lacked the votes to get Senate confirmation. Multiple lawmakers, including Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., objected to partisan comments she had previously made on social media.

Tanden previously served as a senior adviser for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services and a policy adviser to the 2008 presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In the Biden White House, Tanden has helped lead the external political effort to pass the Biden economic agenda. She has also been overseeing a review of the U.S. Digital Service, a group of technologists who design and maintain the federal government’s technology infrastructure.

 

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