Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2021 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- A former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) warned that pro-lifers should be concerned about President Biden’s pick for the position.
Neera Tanden, the CEO and president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, was nominated by President Biden in December to be the next OMB director. If confirmed by the Senate, Tanden will have a critical role at the White House in ensuring the success of the administration’s policies.
“It is certainly one that should trouble pro-lifers, from the standpoint of the policy agenda that she’ll be asked to articulate,” said Russ Vought, former director of OMB from July, 2020 to January, 2021, of Tanden’s nomination to the post. Vought was interviewed by EWTN Pro-Life Weekly in a segment that will air Thursday night.
The position of OMB director is a critical one, Vought explained. Tanden, if confirmed, would be tasked with seeing that Biden’s “policies are reflected throughout the federal government.”
“You’re really the nerve center, from the federal government’s perspective, to be able to put a high-level policy position into effect. And to make sure that the bureaucracy, quite frankly, isn’t going in a different direction,” Vought said on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.
President Biden has already stated that it is the “policy” of his administration to promote “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” in a Jan. 28 memorandum that allowed for taxpayer funding of international pro-abortion groups. That language is commonly interpreted by international groups, including the United Nations, to refer to abortion and contraception.
At her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Tanden reaffirmed President Biden’s opposition to the Hyde Amendment; the policy bars federal funding of elective abortions. When asked by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) if she would push to preserve the Hyde Amendment in future presidential budget requests, Tanden would not say.
Biden has also stated that his administration’s “policy” will be to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” in a Jan. 21 order redefining sex discrimination to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Legal experts told CNA that his order would have broad implications and would ignite many conflicts over religious freedom.
A president’s choice of an OMB director is reflective of his thinking, Vought said, wanting someone who “consistent with his ideology” in the position.
Tanden has previously served as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. During her tenure, the organization fought religious freedom protections for groups opposed to same-sex marriage. The think tank sought to redefine religious freedom to include LGBT “equality” and “reproductive rights,” and has also promoted figures who are seeking to split Christianity over LGBT issues.
Tanden has also been a strong supporter of the HHS contraceptive mandate, using contraception as an issue to divide and marginalize abortion opponents.
During her confirmation hearings this week, Tanden was pressed by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) over a 2012 article where she called the mandate a successful “cudgel” used to cast opponents of contraception as “extreme.”
Tanden initially did not apologize for her words, saying instead that “for anyone offended by my language, you know, I feel badly about that.” Tanden later apologized for her comments contributing to polarization.
Tanden has also supported abortion during her tenure at CAP. She called efforts to defund Planned Parenthood “partisan attacks on women’s access to critical health services”; she lauded the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Woman’s Health decision that struck down Texas restrictions on abortion clinics; and she praised former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards as someone who has “fought tirelessly to improve women’s access to abortion.”
Vought served as acting OMB director from Jan., 2019, until July, 2020, when he was officially confirmed in the position by the Senate.
He said that, during his time in the office, he was able to help enact policies such as the Protect Life Rule which required recipients of federal Title X grants to not be co-located with an abortion facility. He also claimed credit for the administration stopping federally-funded research with fetal tissue at NIH facilities.