A number of President Joe Biden’s candidates of color face opposition in the Senate, and their increasingly frustrated supporters are rallying against the tougher scrutiny these candidates have faced compared to their white counterparts.
This week, Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) questioned Neera Tanden’s confirmation when he said he would oppose her for leading the Office of Management and Budget, arguing that her story of caustic tweets made it too “toxic”. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said Tanden’s tweets made her unqualified for the role. “Neera Tanden neither has the experience nor the temperament to run this critical agency,” Collins said in a statement.
Tanden, the former president of the Center for American Progress, is the first Asian American woman named to head the agency, and she is said to be one of the most prominent Asian Americans in the administration Biden. But Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate and essentially need every member of the caucus to remain unified in order to get Biden’s candidates through. So far, no Republican senator has indicated his support for Tanden.
Tanden’s tweets have aim both left and right and won him a lot of detractors. But she’s not the first candidate to have a lead on social media. In 2018, the Senate approved Richard Grenell will be Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany, even though he had a long history of assignment rude and sexist messages on Twitter.
Manchin voted to approve Grenell. On Tuesday, he said the difference between the two was a matter of timing. After the Jan. 6 Capitol riot – which was carried out by Trump supporters – Manchin said he now believed the country “can’t have that kind of animosity. “
Representative Grace Meng (DN.Y.), vice-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told HuffPost that if Tanden’s appointment does not pass, it would be a blow to the Asian American community. She is also concerned that nominees of color will be subject to a different level of scrutiny.
“Are we changing the standards based on who the candidate is and how they look, and shifting the focus to what makes a candidate qualified?” she asked. “These are questions I had.”
On Monday, nearly 30 influential gender and labor advocates, from organizations such as the AFL-CIO and the National Women’s Law Center, signed a letter highlighting Tanden’s qualifications.
“Neera is a strong and powerful woman with deep convictions, and someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” said Vicki Shabo, senior member of the New America think tank who signed the letter. support to Tanden. “I don’t think she should be held to a different standard than other people with those same qualities have been held to.”
For now, it looks like the White House is still on Tanden’s side. When a CBS reporter asked Biden on Tuesday if he still trusted Tanden, the president said, “We’re going to push. We always think there is a blow, a good blow.
Several other Biden nominees of color face questions and potential complications.
“If it was just Tanden, I would say his circumstances are unusual enough that we don’t want to generalize. But it’s not just her, ”said Jennifer Lawless, professor of political science at the University of Virginia and an expert on gender and politics. “If you have a handful of applicants who are either women or people of color who consistently experience more obstacles and doubts than white men going through the confirmation process, that raises a flag.”
“It’s sexism and racism,” she added.
Rep. Deb Haaland (DN.M.), the first Native American woman appointed to a Cabinet-level position, Secretary of the Interior, is attacked as a “radical” because she wants to fight climate change (a goal of the Biden administration). And also for her tweets.
Civil rights lawyer Kristen Clarke, a black woman who was appointed deputy attorney general in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, is accused of “reverse racism” against whites (not a thing) because of a misunderstanding on a letter to the editor at The Harvard Crimson, she published as a student. She has also been falsely labeled an anti-Semite, an accusation that Attorney General candidate Merrick Garland repel during his own confirmation hearing on Monday.
Vivek Murthy, who was President Barack Obama’s surgeon general, faced a controversial confirmation process at the time for his belief that gun violence is a public health issue. Manchin was one of the Democrats who opposed Murthy’s nomination at the time. He has yet to say whether he will support Murthy as Biden’s general surgeon. Murthy also faces meticulous examination for his advice and speeches for businesses over the past year.
And Xavier Becerra, a Latino and son of immigrants who is Biden’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, is criticized for his “controversial” views on immigration and his alleged lack of qualifications. because he’s not a doctor. He is the current attorney general of California and a former member of the United States House of Representatives, and is said to be the first secretary of the Latin HHS. (Former HHS secretaries Alex Azar and Kathleen Sebelius were also not doctors.)
“I’m not sold yet,” Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) says Becerra, who defended the affordable care law in court, during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. “I’m not sure you have the experience or skills to do this job at this time.”
Even Alejandro Mayorkas, who was recently confirmed as Biden’s homeland security secretary, faces a particularly controversial confirmation process. Six Republicans voted with Democrats to confirm Mayorkas.
Meanwhile, Biden’s white nominees sailed with much more ease. Janet Yellen (Secretary of the Treasury), Denis McDonough (Secretary of Veterans Affairs), Pete Buttigieg (Secretary of Transportation), Tony Blinken (Secretary of State) and Avril Haines (Director of National Intelligence) have all faced relatively conflict-free confirmations. Lloyd Austin, who is black, was also easily confirmed by the Senate with a 93-2 vote.
Advocates and lawmakers have rebuffed the idea that Biden’s non-white candidates are simply more controversial because of the positions they hold or their work as advocates for inequality or climate change or systemic racism.
White nominees, including Yellen, were also candid on these matters.
“The idea that there is controversy here deserves careful consideration, especially where the controversy is that the person was an advocate, or the person sought to protect the rights of people of color, or fought for. protect women’s rights, ”said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center.
Graves was concerned that there was a situation now where people of color were being excluded because they were once advocates.
“It would be absurd at any point, but it’s especially shocking after the past four years and the kind of nominees who have sailed,” she said.
It is not yet clear whether some of the Tories’ stated concerns will result in ‘no’ votes for the nominees awaiting confirmation, or whether they will ultimately be confirmed with strong support anyway.
Either way, the fact that women and men of color are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts is not surprising. They face higher barriers to entry into all corridors of power.
In one survey Last year of women in American businesses, women, especially black women, said they were called upon to provide more evidence that they were qualified on the job. Forty percent of black women said they needed to provide more evidence of their competence, compared to 14% of men.
“Women always have more difficulties,” said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, which lobbied for Clarke in the DOJ and Vanita Gupta, the choice of Biden for third place in the Ministry of Justice. , which was the subject of a smear campaign.
“I hope Biden will fight for his nominees,” Campbell said.
“When someone points out that there’s a double standard, that’s where you need to pause and think about how you are treating these candidates,” Graves said. “It’s not OK.”
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up to become a founding member and help shape the next chapter of HuffPost