Biden names two women leaders to head White House budget office

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FILE PHOTO: OMB acting director Young testifies on Biden's 2022 budget during a hearing of the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington

By Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey

-U.S. President Joe Biden named his choices to run the White House budget office on Wednesday, tapping two women of color to lead the massive government operations agency.

Biden chose Shalanda Young, who has been serving as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to serve as its director and Nani Coloretti, former Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as deputy director, the White House said.

The OMB oversees the $4 trillion federal budget and helps coordinate operations and regulations across the government.

It also tracks federal workers compliance with COVID-19 vaccination rules, among other duties.

Both positions must be confirmed by the Senate, which Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control.

Young, a former House of Representatives staffer, would be the first Black woman to serve in the top role after securing the deputy job in March. Coloretti, who is of Filipino descent, would be one of the highest-ranking Asian Americans in the Biden administration.

Biden, in a video statement, cited the historic nominations, in what he called “the most diverse presidential cabinet in history” and noted both had previously won Senate confirmation for other posts.

“I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm them again so they can lead OMB at this important time,” he said.

Young “will also play a key role in implementing his Build Back Better agenda,” a source separately told Reuters.

Biden’s nearly $2 trillion plan to shore up the social safety net and tackle climate change passed the House of Representatives but must still pass the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaker vote.

Meanwhile, most federal funding expires Dec. 3 under a stopgap spending measure, setting up another showdown in Congress. Lawmakers must also contend with the federal debt limit in order to avoid a historic default as soon as Dec 15.

Carl Tobias, a legal professor at the University of Richmond, said it was unclear whether the Senate would have enough time to confirm the positions before year’s end but should be able to in early 2022.

House Democrats have pushed for Young to get the top job after Biden’s initial choice, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration in March.

“Young has proven to be a master of the appropriations process,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, adding “she has worked to ensure that our federal budget reflects our values as a nation.”

(Additional reporting by Katharine Jackson and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Smith and Andrea Ricci)