But when Manchin expressed hesitancy about confirming Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico as secretary of the interior, Democrats rallied behind her. Some privately urged Manchin not to derail the appointment of Haaland, who, if confirmed, would make history as the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency. (You can also read more on Haaland’s confirmation hearing today in our live briefing.)
Some critics said the opposition of Manchin and Republicans to Tanden’s nomination reflected a sexist double standard, given their past support for cabinet nominees who had made perhaps more controversial statements. After he expressed hesitancy about Haaland, others seized on the fact that the West Virginia senator seemed to be holding up the nominations of multiple women of color. Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Democrats that stand in the way of women of color leadership and the historic confirmation of our first ever Indigenous secretary of the interior represent a regressive, backward step for our nation and do not reflect the priorities of today’s Democratic Party,” Aimee Allison, the founder of the advocacy group She the People, said in a statement. “Confirming Deb Haaland is a sign of a promising future.”
Jane Hall, a professor at American University’s School of Communication and an expert on gender, media and politics, noted that the reasons for Manchin’s doubts about Haaland’s confirmation remained unclear — he has said only that he has “reservations” — but she said that a double standard was clear in the approach to Tanden’s nomination.
“As people have been pointing out, Kavanaugh screamed in Congress, and many other men have said stronger or worse things than Neera Tanden has said,” Hall said in an interview. “There is much lower tolerance of very strong language from women.”
Although both women would be firsts for their roles, with Tanden potentially the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget, the support for Tanden pales in comparison to that for Haaland.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement about the possibility to reshape an agency that has wreaked havoc on Native American lives,” Hall said.