tv White House Budget Director Nominee Neera Tanden Testifies Before Senate... CSPAN February 10, 2021 2:02am-4:48am EST
i'm honored to preside as chairman of this committee for the first time today. and i'm looking forward to working close with my new ranking member, who i see on the screen here. and with all of my colleagues to tackle the tough challenges that our nation is now facing. i am also excited to working our committee's two newest members. alex, great to have you with us today and going forward. alex is joined by senator jon ossoff from georgia. we welcome you again and thrilled to have both of you on this committee. this committee has a long-standing tradition of bipartisanship, of coming together to get things done. and given the many serious challenges facing our nation, we have a lot that we need to accomplish. i look forward to working with
everyone on this committee to find common ground to find common sense solutions, and to strengthen our national security. and also to ensure that government is working efficiently and effectively for all taxpayers. today we are considering the nomination of ms. neera tanden to serve as director of the office of management and budget. welcome, and certainly good to see you here with us today. and wonderful to see your family. i had an opportunity to meet them earlier and it is great they are all here to support you. not just today, but in the years ahead as well. also congratulations on your historic nomination and thank you for your willingness to serve this great nation of ours. the office of management and budget plays a central role in developing and implementing the president's budget and policy agenda across the entire federal
government. to put it simply, the director of the omb is charged with ensuring that every part of the federal government is effectively serving the american people. this is a job that is not easy, even in the best of circumstances. once confirmed, you will step into this role while our country continues to grapple with a historic public health and economic crisis. however, after our conversations that i have had with you, i am confident that your decades of experience in public service have prepared you to tackle this incredibly vital role within our government. you know firsthand the struggles of working as middle-class families in michigan and across the country, the challenges they face everyday. your experience has taught you how much federal government and help support hard-working families, and create opportunities. in fact, you have devoted much
of your career in public service championing economic policies that benefit all americans. we are nearly one year into dealing with a pandemic that has decimated our economy and livelihoods of too many americans. we need strong leadership at omb, to coordinate additional support to families across our country. they need emergency relief. they need vaccines. and they need guidance to help swiftly and safely open our economy. . as director of omb, you will play a key role in steering our country towards national recovery. you also are going to be responsible to address many of the long-term challenges our nation faces, including protecting our cybersecurity infrastructure, growing domestic manufacturing jobs, and even fighting, change. communities -- even fighting climate change.
communities are struggling to address widespread contamination. i hear from michiganders every day about how exposure to these harmful chemicals are affecting their homes and their families. once confirmed, you will be responsible for coordinating the federal government's response to this monumental problem. you will also play a critical role in ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly. that is why i appreciate your robust commitment to transparency, accountability, and working with congress in a bipartisan manner. given all these roles at the center of the federal government, you will be charged with ensuring government is addressing the unique needs of communities of color, and most vulnerable populations. you will also be a key player in the effort to reinvigorate the federal workforce that has been decimated in recent years.
your perspective and your commitment will be critical to ensuring that omb and the federal government is delivering for the american people each and every day. that is why you have received support from numerous organizations, such as the u.s. chamber of commerce, and over 100 public health experts have written to the committee in support of your nomination. without objection, i will enter those letters into the record. today's hearing is an important opportunity for us to have a thorough discussion about how you plan to lead omb, and how we can all work together in a bipartisan manner to address very serious challenges facing our country. so thank you again for your willingness to serve, and for being with us here today. with that, i will turn the meeting over to ranking member portman.
>> thank you, chairman peters, and i appreciate your holding this hearing today. we have been looking forward to having ms. tanden before the committee. let me start by saying welcome. as chair, this is your first official responsibility as chair of this committee, and you mentioned earlier that we have a tradition of bipartisanship on the committee. that's mostly true, and in fact, you and i have worked on many issues together. one indication of our relationship, i suppose, would be that before we knew who was going to be in the majority in the senate, you and i had a meeting. it was several weeks ago now, and whether it was going to be me as chair or you as chair, we agreed to a number of items on our policy agenda, much of which you talked about this morning and i will mention some of it, but our committee has this broad swath of responsibilities, a lot of which has to do with good government, oversight, some of which has to do with our homeland security and our border, and there's always room for figuring out a way forward
as you and i have done a number of issues in the past. so, i look forward to having the opportunity to work with you in your new role, and we will have our differences at times. we'll do so respectfully as we disagree, but we also have a great opportunity to work together with the other members of our committee. it's a strong committee, and i also welcome our two new members, mr. padilla and mr. ossoff. i think we have an opportunity here, again, with the membership of this committee to do a lot of good for our country over the next couple of years. at the hearing today, we will be hearing from ms. tanden. i appreciated our telephone call last week, ms. tanden. as a former omb director, i know how incredibly important this role is. it's crucial that the director have a broad understanding, including of regulatory law and government management, since those are all responsibilities at omb. much like this committee, it has a broad swath of
responsibilities, but you also in this job need to have a broad awareness of an array of policy issues that come before you because you have a coordinating role in so many of them. because of that coordinating role, it's imperative that the director can work productively both within the administration, across agencies, and with the white house, but also with members of congress on both sides of the aisle. cooperation across the aisle is especially important as we confront several crises at once, one of course is we need to work together to address the covid-19 pandemic, as we have previously. in fact, we passed five legislative initiatives here over the last year in the united states senate and the house of representatives signed into law by the president, all of which were not just bipartisan, but strongly bipartisan. i'm discouraged that the current administration seems not to be interested in pursuing the bipartisan solution, but rather has moved ahead with the idea of what's called reconciliation,
which would not require, in theory, working with republicans. it's too bad, and i'm part of a group that helped put together the last $900 billion package and part of the group that has made suggestions as to how we could work in a bipartisan basis going forward. my hope is that there will be a change of heart and perhaps, ms. tanden, you could be part of that. we should work together. we have to work together to make it sustainable to ensure that we're doing the right things and good ideas come from both sides of the aisle, as we have found out in the previous five covid-19 packages that we've passed in this congress. of course, you also will be responsible should you be confirmed for coordinating much of our cyber security, and the cyber threats are growing, both to the public sector, our government agencies, but also to the private sector. this massive cyber attack called solarwinds is an example of that, and omb's critical word needing -- coordinating
role here is very important to us and the committee as was mentioned by chairman peters. we should also cooperate to build on the economic and regulatory progress we've made over the past several years. we have prioritized reviewing the efficacy of regulations and trading processes to ensure that the administrative state is engaged in rigorous cost benefit analysis. i spoke to ms. tanden about this. i know she agrees with cost benefit analysis, and that's important, because it's been one of the reasons we've seen some economic gains particularly a more opportunity -- more opportunities in our economy . going into this pandemic we had not just relatively low unemployment, but we had the lowest poverty rate since we started keeping track of it back in the 1950's, so we had a number of things going right, and part of it was because of the regulatory changes that helped job creators, particularly small businesses, be able to get people to work and keep them at work. so the council of economic advisers estimated that after five to 10 years, the regulatory approach that was taken over the
last several years would raise real incomes by $3100 a year. i hope the new administration will build on these efforts to reduce the regulatory burden and not unduly expand government interfering in people's businesses and their lives because, again, it was working. a year ago, february, we had the 19th straight month of increases in income of 3% or more on an annualized basis. first time that has happened in a few decades in my home state of ohio, and very welcome. i hope the new administration and omb will work with me on lifting the sunset on a bill i offered in 2015 called fast 41 which helped coordinate the federal permitting process for some of the largest infrastructure projects. it's been a very successful endeavor. it's been a bipartisan endeavor from the start. my hope is we can continue that. again, this would allow us to gain more good jobs, and our infrastructure of course badly needs investment and improvement. so my hope is we can work together on that as well. so ms. tanden, i look forward to hearing your thoughts today
about these and so many other issues, and i want to hear about your goals should you be confirmed as omb director. and with that, i'll turn it back to you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator portman. well, today we're joined by two of our senate colleagues who will be introducing ms. tanden. first, i'd like to recognize senator klobuchar. senator, welcome to the committee. >> well, thank you very much, chairman peters. thank you for your leadership and thank you ranking member portman for those strong words and for your work, and i know together, you're going to do an incredible job leading this committee. we all know that the oversight that we're going to see from this very important committee and all the members, including the new members, is going to be so key as we look at what happened january 6, and most importantly, how we move forward in fighting terrorism, a deadly pandemic, cyber attacks, and of course working toward government
reform, which this committee does every single day. so it's an honor to appear here. to take on all of these major responsibilities you need a partner in the office of management and budget who will put our nation's priorities first and your priorities first. i am proud to join you today to introduce my friend neera tanden, a woman who is smart, organized, and tenacious. those are good qualities for this job. and if confirmed, she will make history as the first woman of color to lead the office of management and budget. this morning, i want to acknowledge a few people who have seen neera's compassion and perseverance and, yes, her ability to balance a budget firsthand. that would be her family. i want to introduce you to her husband ben, as well as her
18-year-old daughter alina, her brother raj, and her mother maya, who's with us right behind me today. her 15-year-old son jaden couldn't join us in person, but i know wherever he is, he's brimming with pride. it's an honor to tell you neera's story. not only is her story characterized by hard work and determination, but it actually shows the power of the american dream. neera is the daughter of indian immigrants and grew up in bedford, massachusetts, raised by her mom maya, neera learned the value of perseverance at a very young age. determined to succeed, like so many immigrants, maya put her kids first, and as a single mom, she first relied on food stamps and public housing to make ends meet. maya then found new footing and began working as a travel agent, forging her family's path to the middle class. it is her mother's work ethic and resolve that all of us see in neera, and it's those same
qualities that i know will serve her well as our next director of the office of management and budget. as she started out as a travel agent, maya may not have ever thought that her daughter would one day be asked to serve in the cabinet of the president of the united states, but after years of never taking no for an answer and setting high expectations for neera, somehow we all ended up here today. maya, neera, her family, and all of us. growing up, neera understood the circumstances of her family's struggle and watched social programs work. because of that personal connection, she knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue public service. she thrived as a student after graduating from bedford high school. she continued her studies at ucla and then went on to earn her law degree from yale law school. i've been honored to call neera a friend for years. throughout her career, she has shown a passion for improving people's lives.
she brings years of government experience, unmatched policy expertise, and a personal mission to ensure that everyone can follow the american dream like her family did. neera understands that inscribed in any budget is a set of priorities, choices about ensuring everyone gets a fair shot. she knows that the work of the office of budget shapes the lives of millions of american families just like her own. she's an experienced manager who will be ready to take the helm of the office of management and budget on day one. in her near-decade at the center for american progress, she led teams in promoting bold solutions to 21st century problems, including the pandemic. and no, not everyone in this room will agree with every solution that she's put forth in her career. i don't agree with every solution she's put forth in her career. but what matters, my friends, is her devotion to her country and her ability to do the job.
that's why president biden picked her. chairman peters, ranking member portman, you have both identified bolstering the federal coronavirus response as a crucial priority in this session. we all agree with that priority, and i'm confident that this committee will ensure that the tax dollars are used efficiently and you will have a friend in neera. as president biden puts it, she's smart as hell. that maybe was a simpler way to introduce her, but i had to use a few more words, and i think you will find someone that knows what she's doing, who understands the senate, who worked by the way as senator clinton's legislative director, and as you know, then-senator clinton's time in the senate was marked by her bipartisanship, her accessibility, her ability to get things done across the aisle. that is the background that neera will bring to this office.
she will lead from her heart, but she will also forge practical solutions to the immense challenges facing our country. i know all members of this committee can trust her to hear you out, to negotiate when necessary, and to do so in good faith. she will be a phenomenal director, and i urge the committee to support her nomination. thank you very much. chairman peters and ranking member portman, thank you. >> thank you, senator klobuchar for that, for those remarks. next, we are joined virtually by senator booker, who has recorded a video introduction for us. >> hi to all my colleagues, and of course senator peters and senator johnson. thank you for giving me this, what i consider a really precious opportunity to introduce president biden's nominee to serve as the director of the office of management and budget, neera tanden. i want to first just be candid
with you all. i have known neera for decades. i don't like to admit that because it shows that both of us are old, but we go back a very long way. neera is a friend in the truest and deepest sense of the word, and i want to tell you, when we first met and went to school together, she struck me as someone who had a powerful trifecta. she's a person of deep heart, authentic, caring, and empathy. she's a person of fierce intellect, who i've learned a lot from, even back then in our days of study. and then finally, she's a person who has this spirit, this abundance of love for this nation, its ideals and its principles, and she has lived a life where she has been fiercely adherent to the highest ideals of patriotism, of service, of being there for others. i know that neera's public
career has been not only impressive, but she has lived a life of extraordinary impact. she was involved in both the clinton and the obama administrations. she served in the white house, in the senate, in the department of health and human services, and most recently she has led the center for american progress, providing critical analysis and policy research that has informed many of my colleagues and my office itself. part of what has made her so impactful is that to neera, policy making is not an academic exercise. it is a powerful force that has deeply personal implications on the lives of millions of people. she understands that the decisions we make all have consequences, and often unintended consequences, and that we and the work we do, which she honors so much, has the potential to change life trajectories and make this
nation more real for all of her people. now, neera, there's a great poem that is by langston hughes about a mother giving a message to her son, and she says in that poem, the line is, for me, life ain't been no crystal stair. in other words, life hasn't been easy. neera's climb to impact and influence has been difficult. neera was raised by a single mother who immigrated from india, like so many others, seeking a better life. america was a light in her nation. and neera's family came here. neera has said that what her mom -- when her mom could not find work, they had to rely on america's social safety net to keep them afloat. they relied on food stamps. they relied on rental assistance. and because they had the support they needed when they were struggling, neera's mom was able to get them on their feet, and
she got a job, and she bought a house, and she achieved so much of the american dream. but as we all know, the greatest part of the american dream is seeing your children do better than you. go on to heights that you might not have thought possible. as my mom often said, behind every successful child is an astonished parent. well, neera, as she went on to college and then law school with the likes of people like me, she has led a life that has given her mother great pride and maybe even a little astonishment. neera saw firsthand what this country can do and invest for its people, and in her example before us today, we see what a country that invests in its people can do, can accomplish. as leader of the office of management and budget, neera will be tasked with overseeing the office responsible for implementing the biden administration's agenda and making a government work for people. during a time of a dual crisis
in public health and the economy, neera will be asked to help oversee our federal government's response and plan to rebuild and restore. she will be tasked with helping to ensure that the american people are being served by an accountable government, that it is transparent, and that it is truly committed to them. if confirmed, neera will accomplish this american mission. she will offer the kind of vision that is reflective of her brilliance, of her huge heart, and of her commitment and spirit for this country. she will continue to be truly a public servant and a servant leader. she will lead with empathy. she will lead with skill and understanding for our economy and of our country's challenges. and she will lead with love. she will lead with love of country and all of her citizens.
i urge my colleagues on the homeland security committee and in the senate to swiftly confirm neera tanden's nomination. thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share with you why i so believe in my friend. thank you. >> thank you, senator booker. i have been informed that senator booker also wishes to thank senator portman, the omission in his recorded video was not intentional. ms. tanden, it is the tradition of this committee to swear in witnesses, and so if you all -- if you will stand and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? ms. tanden: i do. >> you may be seated.
ms. tanden, you may now proceed with your opening remarks. ms. tanden: thank you so much, chairman peters, ranking member portman, and members of the committee. i am humbled and honored to be here today as president biden's nominee to serve as director of the office of management and budget. i want to begin by thanking senators booker and senators klobuchar for their gracious introductions and by recognizing my family. my husband ben, my daughter alina, my brother raj, and my mother maya. all of whom are here with me, as well as my son jaden who is supporting me from his school. i owe my presence here to their love and support, and to the grit and resilience of my mother, an immigrant from india who was left to make it on her own in america with two young children after her divorce from my father.
back then she faced a harsh choice, stay in the united states and rely on the social safety net, or return to india where she knew her children would face the stigma of divorce. she had faith in this country and made the decision, i believe the courageous decision, to stay. we relied on food stamps to eat, section eight vouchers to pay the rent. at school, i remember being the only kid in the cafeteria line who used $0.10 vouchers from the free and reduced lunch program. i remember using food stamps in the grocery store. within just a few years, my mother found a job and a few years later, she was earning a middle class salary. soon, she was able to buy a home, and eventually, she saw her children off to college and beyond. i spent every day grateful for a
nation and a government that had faith in my mother and in me, that invested in our humanity and gave me a fair shot to pursue my potential. as i sit before this committee, i'm mindful that my path in life would never have been possible without budgetary choices that reflected our nation's values, many of them made in the very agency i am now nominated to lead. that recognition and gratitude has been the north star of my career. i've spent the past 20 years at the forefront of some of our country's most important policy debates, and for the past decade, i've led a major think tank that engages many areas that omb handles every day, from budget plans, to regulatory proposals, to efforts to make government more effective and efficient. my experience also extends to both the legislative and
executive branches having served in the united states senate, at the white house under president clinton, and at an agency under president obama. i believe that experience provides me with a strong foundation to lead omb. i also know that the role of omb director is different from some of my past positions. over the last few years, it's been part of my role to be an impassioned advocate. i know there have been some concerns about some of my past language in social media, and i regret that language and take responsibility for it. i understand that the role of omb director calls for bipartisan action as well as nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence. omb will play a vital role in addressing many of the biggest challenges we face, from beating back the virus, to delivering aid that will help ensure a strong economic recovery for all families, to ensuring we build back better than before.
if i am privileged to serve as the director, i would ensure that omb uses every tool at its disposal to efficiently and effectively deliver for working americans, small businesses, and struggling communities. i would vigorously enforce my ironclad belief that our government should serve all americans regardless of party in every corner of the country. i would ensure that our budgets reflect the values of a nation build on hard work, human dignity, common purpose, and boundless possibility, and i would work in good faith with all members of this committee to tackle the challenges americans are facing, to address duplication or ineffective programs, to be responsive to you and your staff's inquiries, and to assist the committee in its important oversight role. let me finally say this. as a child in line with my mom at that grocery store, feeling
shy and a bit embarrassed as my mother used food stamps instead of money, i never dreamed that one day i would be sitting in this room with great leaders like all of you. i am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities this country as given me, and i am so profoundly honored by the possibility to serve and help ensure we provide real opportunities for those who come after us. thank you for inviting me before this committee and i look forward to your questions. chair peters: thank you, ms. tanden. before we get started, there are three questions that the committee ask of every nominee. so, for the record, let me just ask you, and if you'd respond very quickly to these would be appreciated. first, is there anything that you are aware of in your
background that might present a conflict of interest with the duties of the office which you have been nominated? ms. tanden: no, sir. chair peters: second, do you know of anything, personal or otherwise, that would in any way prevent you from fully and honorably discharging the responsibilities of the office to which you have been nominated? ms. tanden: no, sir. chair peters: lastly, do you agree without reservation to comply with any request or summons to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of congress if you are confirmed? ms. tanden: i do, sir. chair peters: thank you, ms. tanden. now, i want to turn to the pandemic. clearly on everybody's mind first and foremost. every day i hear from michiganers who are struggling to put food on the table, pay their bills, make the ends meet because of this economic health crisis that we're in the midst of.
president biden has made it very clear on many, many occasions that we need bold action, not just action, but bold action to help families and communities who are still hurting. so, ms. tanden, my question to you is how important it is to deliver covid relief immediately for families and small businesses and provide the resources needed by state and local communities to beat this virus and to reverse this economic crisis. ms. tanden: thank you so much for your question, chairman peters. i think really two critical issues in front of the country. one is the virus itself, covid-19. and the second is economic recovery. while the numbers have improved in the last few days, we remain in a dark winter with the virus. and so, it is absolutely critical to ensure that we have vaccine distribution at its
highest potential. that is important for saving human lives and ending human suffering, but it is also important for us to economically recover and recover as aggressively as possible. so, the president has put forward the american recovery plan, which is designed to address the covid crisis, ensure that we're distributing the vaccine as effectively as possible, reaching as many americans as possible while also addressing particular challenges. as we saw from the unemployment numbers on friday, we -- the economy is still deeply challenged, and we have 10 million more people unemployed than we did a year ago. that is a lot of human suffering. we also are continuing to see increased small business failures, and that is also a deep challenge going forward.
so, the american rescue plan is really designed to address the virus itself and deal with the human suffering and economic challenges that families are facing every day to speed our economic recovery. chair peters: the state of michigan is working extremely hard right now to deliver support to the struggling families so that you mentioned in your answer, but it certainly needs support from the federal government to address this crisis. a national crisis requires a national response working closely with states. i understand you have some experience working on covid-19 response at the state level, working in new jersey. could you tell the committee a little bit about your work, and from that experience, what are some lessons that we should take? ms. tanden: thank you, senator. i was privileged to serve on the new jersey restart and recover y commission.
its focus was on addressing covid-19 and economically ensuring that new jersey recovers. i learned many great lessons while i served on that commission. one is that states bear an incredible responsibility, but it is deeply challenging to have states, in a sense, go this road alone. the virus, you know, does not see any state borders. as states are subject to the actions of other states. so, it is critical to have a national response to the virus. and it is important that we have a national plan to beat back the virus. states are continuing to see economic challenges and it's important to have a partner at the federal level who is really working to address the virus.
and i think that is one of the reasons why it is important to have a national vaccine plan. states are leading the efforts, but a federal partner that can ensure vaccine distribution is happening everywhere, even in places that are harder to reach. the whole country is better off when everyone is getting vaccinated as quickly as possible. chair peters: in that answer you mentioned a number of challenges that states are facing. is there one thing that really stands out in your mind as to what they need from the federal government? what would be a priority in your mind? ms. tanden: well, obviously, states are concerned about resource allocation. and, you know, i think we should recognize that states are seeing different -- states are seeing very different issues depending on their own tax base, but all states, almost all states, are seeing rises in spending that they have to make to address the crisis. spending to shore up hospitals,
spending to essentially ensure testing, and spending for vaccines themselves. so, i think a partner that recognizes those challenges is an important -- a federal partner that recognizes those challenges is something that states across the board throughout the country can look forward to. chair peters: in communities of color in michigan, as well as all around the country, have faced disproportionate health and economic impacts as a result of this pandemic. the evidence is clear. it is overwhelming. for example, many communities of color didn't have equitable access to covid-19 testing or relief for minority-owned small businesses. and now i'm seeing similar issues arise with disproportionately low numbers of black and latino americans receiving the vaccine. if confirmed, how would you approach these inequties and
ensure that communities of color have access to vaccines, to relief, and to other assistance that they so desperately need? ms. tanden: thank you, chairman. if i am privileged to serve in this role, i would make the equity concerns a real focus. and i think that the first and foremost step is to understand the data and have a real representation of what's happening. whether it's communities of color lacking access to resources, as you mentioned, both in terms of ppe but testing, vaccine, really understanding what is happening, what the barriers are, and how we address those barriers. i think it is important as we think through issues like vaccine distribution making sure that we have distribution in places that have been harder to reach. and communities urban and rural where we have less access because we have challenges around rural hospitals, for example.
with rural hospitals closing, we do need to take extra steps to make sure that we have vaccine all throughout the country in every corner of every state. chair peters: thank you, ms. tanden. i am going to reserve some of my remaining questions for later, and now turn this over to ranking member portman. sen. portman: great, thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate it. ms. tanden, thank you for taking time to speak with me last week, and we had the opportunity to go over a number of different issues including a number of policy issues. let me focus today at the outset on the issue that many of my republican colleagues have raised with a may. -- raised with me. as we have discussed, omb director has to work with members of congress on both sides of the aisle. this is true with cabinet officials generally, but specifically with omb because we have so many interactions with them both on the budget and on the oversight responsibilities.
typically the omb director is not a partisan in particular because you have to have these kinds of relationships. i believe that the tone, the content, and the aggressive partisanship of some of your public statements have added to the troubling trend of more incivility and division in our public life. and in your case, i'm concerned that your personal attacks about specific senators will make it more difficult for you to work with them. just to mention a few of the thousands of negative public statements, you wrote that susan collins is, quote, the worst. that tom cotton is a fraud. that vampires have more heart than ted cruz. you called leader mcconnell moscow mitch and voldemort, and on and on. i wonder specifically, how do you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members
of congress you have attacked through your public statements? ms. tanden: senator, i very much appreciate that question. i recognize the concern. i deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language. i recognize that this role is a bipartisan role and i know i have to earn the trust of senators across the board. i will work very aggressively to meet that concern. i know the last four years, or last few years have been pretty polarizing. and i hope that we can work to address the country's challenges in a bipartisan and nonpartisan manner. i appreciate that it is upon me to prove that to this committee and to members, and i will work
as hard to address the concerns of republican senators as democratic senators, and will be accountable. i want the omb to be accountable to congress and work effectively with you. sen. portman: there are media reports that during november of 2020 after the election, so, late last year, more than 1000 tweets were deleted from your account. some of these public statements have been tweets. are these media reports that you deleted more than 1000 tweets in november in advance of your nomination accurate, and, if so, why did you delete them? ms. tanden: senator, i appreciate people's concerns about my tweets and i deleted tweets because i regretted them and i regretted my tone and deleted tweets over many months. but for those concerned about my rhetoric and my language, you
know, i'm sorry. and i'm sorry for any hurt they have caused. sen. portman: so, you did delete the tweets? did you delete them because you believed you might be nominated for this job or another job? ms. tanden: i deleted tweets over many months because i regretted the tone of my tweets. sen. portman: ok. but specifically, after the election you tweeted 1000 tweets, according to media reports. i take it from what you're saying today, that's accurate. is that true? ms. tanden: i don't actually know. but i can completely see the point. sen. portman: ok. and i guess the question is, you know, is that the right thing to do, to go back and try to cover what you had said, given that you might be in a different position, which would be a nomination for a cabinet level job. with the removal of more than 1000 tweets, there are still a lot of harsh partisan tweets on your account.
i found through my staff there are still nine pages of tweets about senator ted cruz. how did you choose which tweets you wanted to delete and which ones you wanted to keep on your account? ms. tanden: senator, i mean, i just thought of some of my language and deleted my tweets. but i would also just say, again, that to the extent people are hurt by my language, i deeply apologize. sen. portman: ok. well, let's move on. talk about regulatory reform for a moment. we got to talk about this quite a bit on our call. as you know, the regulatory committee act has been bipartisan in the past that we have tried to promote as a way to create more jobs and to provide some relief for smaller businesses. when you were president of the senate for american progress, you called the regulatory accountability act quote, a license to kill, among other harsh characterizations. again, a number of public
statements. can you talk about that? why did you think that this legislation, which, again, when you made the statement at the time, we had democrats and republicans onboard. do you still hold those views, and why did you say that? ms. tanden: senator, i believe a senior fellow used that language. i personally did not use that language. i'm the ceo of the center for american progress, so i'm responsible for what it puts forth, but i did not use that language. so, i would say on the issue of regulatory reform, we want to get -- we want to get the balance right. regulations do need to address the public welfare, but they also -- we should continue to use cost benefit analysis and i look forward to working with you on regulatory reform and other issues. and around concerns about regulation that you may have. sen. portman: and cost benefit
analysis, as you know, is the core of raa, and also deals with independent agencies. do you think independent agencies should be more responsible to omb? ms. tanden: well, i think the relationship between the office of management and budget and the executive office of the president and independent agencies is a different one from other agencies. so, i appreciate the concerns raised about the regulatory process with independent agencies, but i do want to recognize that independent agencies are independent for reasons, and we have to try to get that balance right between the independent nature of those agencies and the rules and regulations that they are putting forward. sen. portman: increasingly, regulations are coming from the independent agencies that affect jobs and the economy, and the question is, do you think independent agencies should be subject to a cost benefit analysis? ms. tanden: well, i think cross benefit analysis is critical for the rule making process.
eo-1266 is still a very important rule, or an executive order, and so the question really is, should -- one question and not the only question, but a question is whether omb should be implementing cost benefit analysis with the independent agencies. but that doesn't take away the importance of cost benefit analysis for rulemaking. sen. portman: i'm over my time. i'll be back in the second round. thank you, mr. chairman. chair peters: thank you, senator portman. now recognize senator johnson for your questions. sen. johnson: thank you, mr. chairman. ms. tanden, welcome. appreciate the 30-minute phone call we had. the good act which passed committee twice and put into regulation by the trump administration. it was eliminated immediately by president biden now in his executive orders. did you get to the bottom of what exactly the thinking was on that? ms. tanden: senator, as a nominee, i wasn't part of the process, and we did discuss what was behind it. i have not been able to discern that. i would just say that
transparency and guidance is an important principle and one that i think we should uphold. sen. johnson: ok. appreciate that. real quick in terms of senator portman's questions on the deleted tweets. did you have any help deleting those tweets? did the office of the transition advise you on that, or you just did that personally? ms. tanden: nobody advised me at all. sen. johnson: as director of omb, speaking of regulations and the administrative procedures act, do you think it is the -- that the administration procedure act is followed with new regulations being implemented? ms. tanden: it is my belief that they should follow the apa. sen. johnson: because this is the government of homeland affairs we did oversight on the border and the crisis we have had really since i would consider daca was passed. daca was ruled by the supreme court as violating the administrateive procedures act and it has not gone over well
since. i have a chart here and provide a quick little history lesson before i ask a couple questions. prior to the implementation of daca, we were probably averaging 2000 to 3000 uncompanied children coming across the border illegally and being apprehended per year. it took a while for this policy to change in the u.s., but i believe daca was the catalyst for what president obama referred to in 2014 the first peak here as a humanitarian crisis. that was the time frame, by the way, when then-deputy secretary mayorkas was instrumental in not only forming daca, but setting up a facility in mcallen, texas that had the chain link fences that folks on the other side of the border referred to as cages. that humanitarian crisis caused the obama administration to do things like family detention, and it worked. you could tell the illegal
immigration came down in terms of unaccompanied children in red and family units in blue. unfortunately, a court reinterpreted the flores decision and included accompanied children, as well. again, it takes a little while for that to be communicated to the coyotes, and we end up with a further surge. president trump got elected in 2017, dedicated to controlling the border, and the border, again, we had far fewer people coming into this country being apprehended coming in here illegally. but, again, when people took president trump to court and his actions to secure the border proved unable to -- he was unable to really implement those things, we end up with a crisis. i mean, far greater crisis culminating in may of 2019 where we had more than 300 people come across the border illegally and being apprehended. they basically turned themselves in. per day. that's a caravan per day.
you throw in single adults and it is over 4000 people per day, and then the trump administration enacted policies including building the fence, mpp, and you can see prior to covid hitting, we were getting the border back under control, which i personally think is a good thing. i appreciate your story, i appreciate legal immigrations. it has made this country strong. we can't have illegal immigration, certainly not at these levels. so i think my question is, now that president biden is in the midst of a massive number of executive orders, some of them affecting the border, one of them is suspending or potentially canceling the contracts on building the fence. let me give you a quick history lesson on this. the secure fence act was passed in 2006. it passed the senate by a vote margin of 80-19. among the 26 democrats senators that voted for it were then-senator obama, biden, clinton, now current senator
schumer, feinstein, wyden. that fence called for 700 miles, or that act called for 700 miles of double laying fencing. in the end, only 36 miles of double layer fencing. the rest basically a sieve, which allowed that kind of crisis to occur. 700 miles of fencing, we built 450, and we have 250 miles of fencing contracted, and we will pay probably billions of dollars in penalties if we don't build that fence. which will cost the american -- waste a couple billion dollars and put about 5000 people out of work and leave our border less secure. so, my question for you is, first of all, what is your opinion of canceling those contracts, and do you recognize the problems we have when the
administrative procedures act isn't followed and daca doesn't fix the problem. it leaves it just lingering and festering for years? ms. tanden: senator, i would say, first on daca, you know, i think a legislative solution to daca is the optimal solution. that is my view. and i appreciate the challenges you're raising. i would also say that, as a nominee, i've participated in the decisionmaking process so far, just to say that. i also recognize the importance of borders and having a border. i think there are some questions about technology versus other mechanisms versus a wall. but i appreciate that it is important that we ensure that we have humane immigration policies that respect the rule of law and also enforce the borders that we do have. i think that there has been a robust debate in the congress over many years of whether a wall is the most effective strategy or technology or other
means. but i also appreciate the point that you're raising, which is money has been already allocated . and if i am privileged enough to be confirmed, i will examine these issues and i will work with you to understand your perspective and whether we should move forward. sen. johnson: so, based on the fencing with wire surrounding the capitol right now, apparently someone thinks fencing actually works. apparently some would agree with that. do you continue to provide this congress and this senator the data on exactly what is happening at the border in terms of uncompanyaccompanied children and family units. by the way, it's already a crisis. we have 3500 people per day being apprehended. this is going to be a growing crisis and another disaster based on, again, no deportations. we're not going to build the wall and the sig fwhlnal is come
on into america because there will be no consequence for coming into this country illegally. ms. tanden: senator, i believe that accurate information is important to policymakers everywhere. so, i will 100% commit to ensure that you have the information that you need to make good policy and that we would be a good partner, the office of management and budget will be a good partner in sharing information. sen. johnson: i appreciate that. thank you, mr. chairman. chair peters: thank you, senator johnson. senator lankford, your questions. sen. lankford: chairman, thank you. thanks for being here and going through the process, all that you have done. i want to clarify some things my colleagues have mentioned, as well. president biden on his very first full day in office stood in front of the staff at the white house and said this statement. i'm not joking when i say this. if you ever work with me and i hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, i promise you, i will fire you on the spot. on the spot. no ifs, ands, or buts. the challenge is some of the
previous statements you have mentioned. you have tweeted more in the past four years than president trump tweeted as far as just numbers. and it has been pretty hostile. over 1000 tweets have been deleted by you. but there is still a lot that is there, as well. all of that is partisan. i get that. i do have a concern, though, because some of the statements that you've made seem to drift out of the partisan issues. one statement that you made about people that have the personal religious conviction s about contraception like little sisters and others, called them a successful political cudgel helping isolate extreme advocates from the mainstream. that ones seems to have crossed a different line from me. so help me understand how the personal religious beliefs of some americans could be a successful political cudgel? ms. tanden: senator, first of
all i want to say that for anyone offended by my language, you know, i feel badly about that. i think in that regard, i was more speaking to people who politicize religion, not people who believe in religion. political leaders who politicize religion. i'm a person of faith myself and deeply respect people of all faiths and faith traditions. sen. lankford: the context did not seem to be about people who use religion as a cudgel. it seems to be the personal beliefs of that's the part that me. president biden has talked a lot about tone. you walked into this with a very, very different tone. that stood out in this process to us and we're hopeful that if confirmed that this is a very different thing, something that
this committee has asked pretty frequently of nominees is will you commit working across the aisle and that's one we have to ask more blunt than other because it's clear that hasn't been your position in the past. ms. tanden: i appreciate the question. but i do think the left over the past several years has been very polarizing and i regret some of my language and apologize for that. i've worked for immigration, small businesses, even in the last few years on these important issues so i know it's on me to demonstrate to this committee and to republican and democratic members i can work with anyone and that burden is on my shoulders and it is one they plan to take on and i will do my best to work with you on
any issue. >> great, let's try to figure that out. guidance documents is one of the key issues we talked a lot about. i was quite shocked that the first week of the biden administration they took away an executive order that told agencies to collects all their guidance documents and put them all in one place to a small business could find them. it didn't seem to be partisan. it seemed to be a pretty good idea to say don't hide your guidance, put it all in one spot. is that something that you would work to reinstate so small business owners don't have to play hide and seek on finding the guidance that applies to them? ms. tanden: i absolutely believe that guidance should be transparent and very accessible. i promise i will try to understand the rationale behind it and try to work with you.
>> that's all we're surprised about. why all of a sudden good government was a bad idea. i've assume just because it had trump's name on it. we worked on something called the taxpayer's note. it passed in december. both house and senate, signed by the president. how do we expose duplication in government, how can we see each program, actually identify each program? how many statuers are signed and if it's evaluated how it's evaluated. this will take a couple of years to roll out but that would fall on your desk. the goal is that the american public and members of congress to type in an address and see where there's duplication of government. currently hi -- it takes a year and a half what we 80's to be
able to do in seconds with a quick search. another one that senator hassan have worked on extensively is a bill ending government shutdowns. it's a problem we've worked on for years and one that wemmeds need the cooperation of o.m.b. to make sure the language is right but every time there's a government shutdown there's a lot of funds for taxpayers, it's a big issue we have to be able to resolve. the next is an issue of numbers. we have to figure out how to get numbers out to us in a transparent way. it is a challenge right now, i would tell i, working with the biden team. we're trying to find out how much has been spend -- spent of $900 billion that was allocated in the december bill, how much has been spent on, that so far we're not getting answers. they're just saying we need $9
million more. that can't be that way. we have to actually snow. as you know, larry summers, who came on your team at centers for american progress while you were there and you make glowing remarks about him as a leader and as an come -- economist. he's said we put that much into the economy, this could push us over. it's the responsibilities of congress to understand how much has already been spent. that will be on your desk and it would be very important we get rapid and accurate information. we would count on you for that process. ms. tanden: senator, may i respond? >> yes, you may. ms. tanden: thank you very much. thank you for raising the issues of importance.
it will take some period of time but i do want to work closely with you and your staff to ensure that o.m.b. is going that it -- what it needs to do and making sure this law is realized. i 100% believe it is critical for policymakers and the public to have information about services, the government, where their resources are going. there's been a lot of advances with u.s.a. spending and other information that's provided that the taxpayer has a right to know. it's a critical piece of work and i look forward to working on you on that. -- with you on that. i also recognize that government shutdowns hurt economic growth, frankly and result in significant dislocation and as we are trying to recover economically, government shutdowns are a particular problem and self-inflicted wounds so i would welcome
working with you as well as the committee. and in terms of transparency, i will say again they appreciates the policymakers need information to make good policy and on covid or any other area i will work with the committee to provide with you the information that you need to make good decision making. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator lankford. sens hassan, you may ask your question. >> thank you, chairman peterson. and i want to thank senator portman and congratulations on your new position and i look forward to working with you over the next two years and thank you, ms. tanden for your it will today, for your willingness to serve, for taking the time to meet with me a cup of weeks ago and i want to thank your family too. i found your it will about the influence of your family on you quite compelling and just wanted to say thank you to them as
well. i'll also add that i am the co-sponsor on the taxpayer rights to know on the shutdown bill so i will look forward to working with senator langford with you on this issue among others. i wanted to start my questioning today on the issue of wasteful democrat programs. as the lead democrat on the subcommittee, i introduced lead legislation to eliminate due public active federal programs. however, a barrier to doing more is a lack of a complete federal program inventory. if confirmed, will you reneau efforts to complete a federal income inventory? ms. tanden: i will, thank you. >> and will you work with me to
eliminate wasteful programs? ms. tanden: i will. i recognize inefficient wasteful programs don't help anyone. >> thank you. the federal i.t. as a structure is woefully out of date. this not only open federal systems up to cyberattacks but also fails to provide the level of customer service that the american people expect in the 21st century. of particular concern is the fact that the federal government spends more taxpayer dollars on maintaining new implets t. systems than acquiring new systems. what are your priorities when it comes to modernizing the federal i.t. infrastructure in ms. ten dan: thank you, senator, for your lineup -- and the leadership of the committee on this issue. the recent incident tells us that we have a lot of work to do and i would say, if i'm
privileged to serve as m.b. director, one of my top priorities will be to work with the dwig. it's also important that we make our government more consumer friendly and one of the big differences between the united states and other countries is the fact that our country can be woefully inefficient and ineffective because we don't really use technology effectively. it's an irony that in the united states we have the greatest technological invasions and some of the most insow -- innovative countries and our government still can't access information. small businesses can't find out if they can get access to a small business loan as first quarterscy and effectively as possible. so the consumer dynamic and the federal government's ability to understand its own resources and allocate them effectively.
the modernization fund has been a way in which we can allocate resource to pull down and as you know, the president in the a.r.p. plan has proposed additional funding for the technology modernization fund because we recognize the importance of this modernization. also during a global pandemic where we need to make sure that our agencies, information and essentially the public's privacy is protected and protected well. so modernizing our systems and allocating resources so that we modernize our systems is really, i believe, a way in which we can make the federal government much more efficient, effective and much more directed to the needs of customers, the american citizens. >> thank you. you've laid out some ways that i think congress can help with this effort but is there
anything else that you would like to add about ways congress can help agencies realize their modernization goals while moving away from wasteful i.t. systems? ms. tanden: i guess i would add that there's bipartisan legislation that has been passed to really ensure agencies can do things like move to the cloud, really move away. as you know, we have, within some agencies, systems that are 30, 40, 50 years old. we've spent a lot of time and money patching easy to systems. the real challenge is frankly, it takes an investment of resource in one year and because we don't have things that create
some incentives. it's a substantial innovation. >> great. thank you. you'll oversee the regulatory affairs as well as making decisions. as is the biden administration looks to undue dangerous regulatory rollbacks from the previous administration, the american public need to know those are fax based and not politically motivated. how will you ensure you use reliable data and science to support role -- rule-making decisions? ms. tanden: i think this is a criminal issue. the decision making process
should always be guided by facts and evidence,ages of real impact on people's lives and i commit to members of this committee to ensure that this -- that is the process going forward and that we use up to date evidence, the newest information, reliable science. we are committed to an evidence-based approach and getting that evidence from all members of congress regardless of party and i believe everyone's information is critical so i look forward to looking with members of the committee on this. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator hmbing assan. senator, you are recognized for your questions. >> thank you. thank you for sharing your journey and your willingness to serve. the covid-19 pandemic has made clear what many of us have known
for a long, long time and that is that in many ways, not just to california -- two californians, my home at a time with you two americas. one that has the ability of remote work and the other that is on the front lines of this pandemic, comprised of essential workers that go home, many to low-income and diverse communities that have long suffered from lesser access to health care, to affordable housing, to good schools, healthy food, clean air and water. i was raised in one of those communities in california, which has been referred to recently as the epicenter of the epicenter of this pandemic that has ravaged communities across the nation. the covid positivity rate, for example, is five times higher than that of santa mona.
the death rate for latinos in california is 21% higher than the state average. but this can be seen in cities and states across the action. as the director of the office of middleweight and bunt, how would you ensure that there would be equity when it comes to fighting this pandemic, ensure that we don't see vaccine deserts in our communities like we often see food deserts, for example. and how will you ensure that federal grant and new regulations actually address the glaring inequity that have been exposed by the pandemic, both in california and across the nation. ms. tanden: thank you, senator padilla for your question. i very much appreciate it. and i do recognize that the covid pandemic as exposed the
many deep inequities in our country and it's not just on one dimension, at you outlined. it's on covid sicknesses, covid death rates. the economic challenges have been borne disproportionately by communities of color. we have to carefully monitor we don't see the same kind of inequities in vaccine distribution. equity has been a central component of the president's covid response at large. that is why the white house has a covid task force that has as a critical component racial equity issue in it because it is vital that our government address the needs of all communities. as the president has also
outlined, how equity issue should be central to our policy-making process and to our rule makings. one of his executive orders is to ensure issue like equity are fronts and center. that we should do cost analysis but also release howe realize how the rule making process can affect communities of color and we should be mindful of that. >> thank you. and may i say a couple of issues and questions beginned into one. california is home to 12% of the u.s. population. however, under the previous administration, california often found itself being shortchanged by federal government grant programs, particularly those that are discretionry.
for example, california received just 3 p.m. 6% of the department of transportation bill to grant in fiscal year 2020 and 0% of their apartments in progress. so what are your thoughts on ensuring that every federal agency does not plipt size the reward -- awarding of grant, especially discretionry grant and california achievers fair treatment but given the increasing threat of wildfires, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters facing challenge, fema has played an essential role in the life of any constituents and that was even tire -- prior to my -- the pandemic. one immediate step would be to
increase the federal cost share of fema-eligible expenses from the standard 57% to a higher figure. maybe 90, 95. shoot for 100% and make it retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic. will you commitment to taking a look at the possibility of doing that? comment on fema and then fairness in grant and funding more broadsly. ms. tanden: thank you for both questions. i believe the administration is committed to seeing that fema is providing 100% of funding for covid-related expend chures but i will absolutely commit to working on this issue with you if i am privileged to serve as o.m.b. director and on the issue of grant and processes, decisions on funding.
decisions on funding, decisions on grant, it is my view and i know the view of this administration that it would follow the facts and evidence and the needs of statements and should not matter at all the political orientation of a state or who voters voted for. these decision really should be guided by the means of the state. california has many, many needs and this should really determine -- as i said in my remarks, it is my orientation that the federal governments is the government for all americans, regardless of party, regardless of states and really should address what it's doing based on the need of people and not their political affiliation. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator padilla.
senator sinema, you're recognizeds for your questions. i believe you'll be coming to us remotely. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. ms. tanden, as arizona senior senator and the subcommittee on regulatory affairs and federal middleweight, it's important that i closely manage the middleweight efficiency and effectiveness of federal agencies programs. my first question, arizona businesses have suffered greamentsly because of the coronavirus. government programs such as the p.p.p. have provided a lifeline but in help has been uneveryone. to speed relief congress waved the rule-making requirements and allowed the small business administration to utilize interim final rules. there have been 25 final rules
to perform p.p. issued over the last year. most of these came in the first knew month of the program. they alter farm lass with significant cons again for real people. for example, i've been helping an arizona small business owner who saw the rule change after her loan had been disbursed. she wrote it off as another government program well intentioned but missed the mark. in january during a meeting with my office, my staff realized something in her story didn't sound right. sure nur -- enough, if she had waited a little long to apply, her p.p.p. loan amount would have been increased by $50,000
due to rule changes. this is unacceptable. if it happened to her, i know it's happening to other. it's important to get the rule out quickly and make changes as necessary, but these changes have real consequences for business owners and no one took the time to adequately communicate these changes to program participants. how will you make sure that changes in eligibility and program rules are appropriately and adequately articulated to the real people who are participating in these programs? ms. tanden: thank you very much, senator sinema. i appreciate your leadership and focus on the covid response and the need for more resources in arizona.
i think you'rer your highlighting the central concern that has been discussed with p.p.p. that is a central focus for the biden/harris administration, to ensure that p.p.p. resources are going to small businesses, guidance and information should be accessible to all consumers. you're right, as we've allocated resources relatively quickly with the cares act, that guidance can be confusing and we need to make sure it's as consumer friendly and oriented towards quickly delivering resources to those in need. making sure that small businesses are at the front of the line not in the back of the line with p.p.p. and ensuring that we're really getting to resources to main street as quickly as possible. my oranges -- orientation is to
have guidance go quickly but really to do it there a way that's as custom friendly as targeted to the real needs of small businesses as possible. >> thank you. i have a couple of other topics i want to get to so i'm going to and you a couple of quick questions. first, the office of information and regulatory affairs functions best when its agency and o.m.b. director have overruled the demermings of the office. when in happens, the qualities of the agency rules suffer. so will you uphold the tradition of independent analysis at the office of information and regulatory affairs? ms. tanden: yes, absolutely. >> in your opinion, what are the most important changes that must
be made to the rule making process? ms. tanden: i think the orientation of the president's memorandum is to add to the information that's important and look across dimensionings like equity issues that have been raised by other senators here. so. idea is to not take away from cost benefit analysis but make sure that we have a truer picture that really makes clear the impact of the rule making process on real people. >> in memo indicates that the o.m.b. director must engage with stakeholders. my question is will you recognize our office and this committee as a stake holder and work with us accordingly? ms. tanden: absolutely, senator. >> thanks. last congress i introduced the setting manageable analysis
requirements and text acts with senator james langford. we plan to republican introduce this legislation this year. i would like to and you if you will work with us? ms. tanden: yes, i absolutely look forward to working with you on that legislation, senator. >> great. some policymakers have argued that we need more targeted recovery efforts that meet our country' immediate needs without exaster baiting our lodge-term debt and deficit concerns. as o.m.b. director, what steps will you take to address these concerns? ms. tanden: i very much share these concerns. you raised the issue of p.p.p.,
making sure that small businesses are really receiving those resource, that the resources are targeted to the small businesses that -- that's make or break whether they receive that supports versus larger entities. that is a major focus of mine and i would welcome the opportunity to work with you and all members of this committee on these issue. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i see that my time is expired. thank you. >> thank you, senator sinema. senator os so have, you're recognized for your questions. >> thank you. thank you for joining us today and thank you for the discussion today that we shared prior to this hearing. first question for you, in georgia as in states across the country, working class and middle class families have been crushed by this pandemic and the
economic crisis that has resulted from this pandemic and that's one of the reasons that i and so many mens of this body have been urging that we swiftly pass the direct economic relief. the economic impact payments or stimulus checks families are counting on to stay in -- on their feet and avoid i vection -- eviction or foreclosure. will you please explain to the panel and to the public what steps you'll commit to taking to ensure that once congress does its job and passes that direct economic relief that the biden administration, as squiffletly as possible, sends that relief directly to the people? ms. tanden: senator, you're absolutely right that families are suffering right now. as i mentioned earlier, the unemployment numbers on friday demonstrate that we still have 10 million people who are
unemployed and we face a hunger crisis in this country. as many as 12 million children who are going hungry. so that is why it's important to act and to the extent congress act, i can commit to this committee to work as expeditiously as possible to ensure those funds are going out the door as quickly as possible. recognizing the issues raised by senator sinema in terms of making sure our guidance is as transparent to the public and national to the public as possible. but it will be a priority for us, if i'm concerned, a priority for the o.m.b. to ensure that resources are getting out the door as expeditiously as possible. >> thank you, and one of the challenges is that many of those who are in the deepest economic disstress right now also have
difficulty accessing basic financial services. they may be experiencing homelessness. they may not have a permanent address or be in temporary housing. they may not have access to the banking system. will you commit to working with my office and the treasury departments to ensure that low-income georgians who face some of those challenges can still access the economic impact payments of the stimulus checks to which they are entitled as u.s. citizens once congress passes such legislation? ms. tanden: i will, absolutely, work with you and members of this committee on these issues. i understand from my own personal experience how important it is that our government work effectively and that resources are targeted to those people who need it and
that they get delivered in mimely manner. >> thank you, ms. tanden. georgia hosts some of the most renowned historically black colleges and universities in the country and hbcu's play a vital role, not just serving the black community but as gems in our nation's higher education system. will you commit to working with my office to ensure that as the administration develops its budgets request in upcoming years that the needs of hbcu's are proportionately prettied -- represented in the president's bunt request? ms. tanden: senator, as a candidate, president biden indict -- did discuss the vital role hbcu's play amongst higher education institutions, on equity, from an equity
perspective in higher education. it is a priority for the president and vice president and i would welcome the opportunity to work with you on those issues. >> thank you, ms. tanden. inspectors general throughout the executive branch play a vital role in identifying the waste, fraud, corruption, the abuse of power. will you to the fullest extent that you have authorities, issue direction, guidance or memoranda to agency heads, that they should instruct their employees in all cales to comply with inspector general investigations, to promptly provide their agency i.g.'s with such information, evidence documents tation as those in thors general may request? ms. tanden: absolutely, senator. and i recognize and appreciate
the leadership that members on this committee on supportive in thors general. i recognize the role they play and ensuring agencies are fulfilling their mission and the role that they play. if i am fortunate enough to be confirmed. i will support the work of the inspectors general and work for members of congress to fully understand how our agencies are operating and achieving mayor thigs. >> thank you, and you will issue written guidance to that effect? ms. tanden: absolutely. >> thank you. just touching briefly on cybersecurity, which is something where o.m.b. has been significant, responsibility and
jurisdiction, we continue to see introducings of federal networks, attacks and intrusions of sensitive private sector networks. can you outline some of the stretches you intend to take to strengthen cybersecurity within the federal government across the country? ms. tanden: absolutely. and asics, i believe solar winds really demonstrates the challenge of ensuring cybersecurity. i appreciate the president has proposed significant resources to shore up cybersecurity. i think we all recognize that this is not just some far-off risk. if i am privileged to serve, it will be a high priority and i
look forward to working with this committee and i appreciate the work in committee ask others have done to innovate and fund mechanisms for cybersecurity. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator hawley, are you recognized to deliver your questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ms. tanden, thank you for being here. congratulations on your nomination. let me start with a question about corporate special interests. do you think that wall street and big tech companies have too much influence in our economy and societies today? ms. tanden yes. >> i'm glad you say that. i agree with you. and i've talked for years now about these concentrations of power and how their stifle competition and ultimately hurt working people.
i want to and you about the report from "the new york times" and other outlets suggests that you slissed the tense of millions of familiars in donations from wall street and silicon valley from companies including mark zuckerberg. can you give us a sense of how you will, if you're confirmed as o.m.b. director, how you will advocate for working people given in history of soliciting tens of millions of dollars from the biggest and most powerful corporations on the planet? ms. tanden: senator, the role of o.m.b. is to serve the public and i am 100% committed to that role. and let me say that, just to be clear that i believe the center for american progress took funding from the zuckerberg foundation. not mark zuckerberg directly but i completely take the point about concerns about funding and
i can commit to you that i will always uphold the highest ethical standards. i will work with career folks at o.m.b. to make sure i do so but also say that no policy or position i have taken has been determined by the financial interests of any single person. >> money from the personal foundation of mr. zuckerberg. millions of familiars from the wall street finance years, big banks, foreign banks, silicon valley, $1 million from the managing partner at bane capital and u.a. effort. given in record, how can you work to ensure us that these firms don't exercise undue influence, frankly influence they've already got in the making of public policy and the making of our economy. how can you ensure us you'll be
an independent actor? ms. tanden: i really appreciate that question and would say that i and the center for the american progress aggressively take on the role of faybook and tech companies that have called for higher tax on companies, regulations of wall street. financial trance action tax. i'm proud of the record of the center for american progress and policies that will limit the power of wall street, limit the power of tech companies and i would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and work with you on those ideas because i do agree with you. my role would be one in which i would follow the tax laws -- policy of the president. but it's my orientation that we need to rebalance power in our
economy and i hope there are way you and i can work together in those arenas. >> good, i'll hold you to that. should you be confirmed, you'll have a leading voice in the acquisition process. in that capacity, will you investigate and work to ensure that chinese-based products are removed from sensitive government networks, considering the security threat that these can pose due to the spying activity of the chinese communist party? ms. tanden: i absolutely believe that we have to ensure real security in our supply lines from products from china and elsewhere. but china, there are products prosecute like huawei that have been real concern about security. >> tiktok and app that i think represents a national security threat. . safe to say that's been the view
of this committee. tiktok is owned by a chinese company. they have to share information potentially gleaned from americans with the bay zwring government. do you share the view that tiktok represents a potential security risk, particularly if it's downloaded and used on government devices? ms. tanden: we could -- we should absolutely be concerned about any entity that takes information and shares it. to the spent tiktok was doing that, i would be concerned. but we should be concerned about any private information that looks at what you do and sharing it with the world.
>> is that something you would look into and use your position in the federal acquisition process to scrutinize? ms. tanden: i will definitely commit to locking at our role and the acquisition process to scrutinize and i am happy to work with your office on those issues. >> very good. you anticipated my next question so i'll hold to you that as well in terms of finding ways to use federal procurement policy. let me and you in my remaining seconds, you said in your written testimony that our budgets should reflect the values of a nation built on human dignity. let me and you about the views of human dignity held by intelligence of millions of americans who describe themselves as pro life. for years the hyde amendment has
reflected bipartisan commitment not to spend federal tax dallas on government-funded aworks. if you are confirmed in this role will you advocate that the president's budgets request next year preserve the hyde amendment? ms. tanden: president bidesen has supported the repeal of the hyde amendment so i will anticipate how that operates but that is a position that he took in the campaign and has head. >> i want to and you also about the welden amendments. i will do that. however, due to the lack of
time, i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hawley. senator scott, you're recognized to ask your questions. >> thank you so much, senator. >> did i hear me? >> yes, i did. i recognize that china is a securities threat and it is a real getor for the united states. it is a competition that we can win but we do have to act across domestic policy, foreign policy and national security. >> you've written a lot in the past so i'll and you about one of them. in regard to president trump's trade deal with communist china you wrote, that much like the trump tax cut, in deal is designed to deliver for wall
street and big companies while doing nothing for working families. so my concern about the trade deal is that they don't comply. they don't. china has never complied with anything. so can you talk about your opposition to tax cuts and the things you would do to hold china accountable and what do you think about the sanctions that the trump administration put on china and do you believe we ought to keep those going or stop those? ms. tanden: thank you, senator. opposition to tax cuts. i guess my view is to focus on whether nose tax cuts are being effective. i would note that business investment did not dramatically increase with the tax cuts that were passed and it is president biden's policies to redress some of those tax policies for
upper-income americans and, of course, leave intact everything the tax cuts for middle-income americans. so i appreciate this might be an area of divergence and views but i also want to be focused on facts and evidence. i would also note that we did pass those tax cuts at a time where perhaps we should have been thinking about the impact on dealt and deficit. and that was one of my criticisms. but i always want to work with members of commeach on issues and if for ways in which we can form tax policy going forward in a way that allows us to economically recover and address conference, i welcome those ideas. >> so what do you think about the china trade deal and the existing sanctions? ms. tanden: my concern they expressed on the by lat really a
china, the by lateral rhythm between china and the united states in the last several years is one where china did not uphold its end of the gar begin, so to speak. and i do think there are questions about whether a by lateral trade mechanism is going to be effective. i do believe that it is vital that we ensure that china change course. in many ways, china benefits from, you know, how do i say this -- to get both ends of the bargain. in the global system, they are a large global economy but sometimes acts like a mercantilist economy. so it is important that we marshall alleys to put pressure on china to ensure that they have a fair trading system where american companies can truly competes in china. which has not been the day. -- case.
so to the extent that our policies and practices are actually trying to accomplish, that i think that is an important goal. my questions about the bilateral trade system has been that it has not been effectsive. so as we think through steps going forward, whether it's sanctions or working with our alleys in europe, some of whom haven't been as strong on these issues. >> almost none. ms. tanden: and we need to marshall the world to make the case that it's unfair across the board what's been happening. so whether that -- that is 1234g i would have to work with the u.s. trade rep and other members if i'm confirmed but my orientation is that we do need to recognize how unfair the presents system is, not just for american companies but for american workers as well. >> right.
what do you think about -- there are a million uighurs in prison and taking away the basic rights of the hong kong citizens and threatening taiwan and harvesting organs and housheds those alaska -- what would you have do to try to combat some of those things that is just disgusting to any american that knows about it? ms. tanden: yeah, and i would say, smart, we discussed this and i really appreciated our conversation and i appreciate how it is vital that northwestern leadership express to the worlds how important human rights are and i would share with the committee that a few years ago at the center for american progress, we hosted some of the leaders of the hong kong protest and i was really taken and struck by how the leaders of those protests really look at american leadership and they've talked about abraham lincoln and john f. kennedy as
sort of their icons for their pro and i think that is, in many ways what's at stake here, which is basic human rights and basic human protection and i am hopeful that we're seeing that new generationings of leadership in hong kong really fights for those protection. >> thanks, we don't have much time left. we see our higher institution, which get a lot of money from our federal government. they've had a lot of chinese infiltration through people that much rhythms with the chinese communist pear and the chinese military. what would you do to try to stop that? ms. tanden: there been bipartisan leadership in the committee to focus on the grant making process and to ensure that that kinds of negative influence, particularly negative influences on issue where
american innovation are at stake how about should be a top corn and one that it follow influence on if chosen to serve. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator scott. senator rosen, you're recognized to ask your questions. >> thank you, chairman peters, of course ranking member portman and really appreciate your being here . i want to speak a little bit about nuclear waste. nearly four decades ago, congress passed the nuclear waste piles act and its later amendments to select nevada's yukka mountains without our consent. it's not been completed but it has potential i don't understand that instead of wasting taxpayer money on this unsuccessful and misguided prodget, we should
find alternative uses for yucca that creates job. i introduced the jobs not waste acts, which would prohibits the committee from taking any action at yucca minute until the koror of o.m.g. studies and reports to congress of the economic viability and job-creating benefits of the alternative uses of the mountain assignment. it would require congress to confirm public hearings. would you commit to working with me and rest academy to explore all the active sources for the site? ms. tanden: absolutely, senator. and i would really welcome the opportunity to work with you and recognize your leadership on
this. >> will you commit that in future budgets requests you won't propose me fundsing for licensing, planning or development at that mountain and to insure that there are no regulatory or agency barriers to research an alternative to nuclear waste disposal in nevada without our consent? ms. tanden: yes, i absolutely will and president biden has made a similar commitment. >> thank you. i want to move on to the pandemic. in december, an appropriation package in congress inclued a much-needed increase of 1,000
medical congratulations slots, something i've advocated for since first coming to congress. in nevada, we have a provider shortage in every single part of our state. it's critical to thee these slots reach the areas that need them most. o.m.b. has the final oversight of regulations coming out of h.h.s. so how do you plan to use your position to help address these critical health care issues as much as ensuring clear and equitable process for those new g.m.e. slots so that they're distributed across areas that need them the most like mine in nevada. ms. tanden: senator, thank you for raising this issue. i do recognize that during the covid crisis we need to act -- omb would need to act expeditiously on these issues. areas like nursing shortages, doctor shortages, doctor and nursing shortages in particular communities, rural communities, should be a top priority for
moving guidance and regulations expeditiously. we will absolutely recognize how covid-19 issues and the regulatory process around covid-19 issues should take priority, because lives are at stake. and so i would absolutely commit to working with you and your office on these issues and really welcome your input and feedback on how the process is working. sen. rosen: thank you. i want to build on that, too, because a lot of our physician practices across the country and nevada are small businesses. and we have seen many of them close during this time of covid for many reasons. and so not only estimating a physician shortage of maybe over 135,000 physicians over the next 12 years, nevada ranks 46th in the nation in primary care-to-patient ratio, primary care doctors. how do you see the role of omb to help support the stability
and recovery of those physician practices? so the ones that may have had to close are struggling now as small businesses, and, again, what's your role in creating new opportunities? ms. tanden: i really see the role as twofold. one is a budgetary role and thinking through how we support gme and direct support for doctors. obviously there are programs that have existed for doctors and nurses to go into high-need areas. so those are two elements. and of course there is the regulatory side as well in which we develop guidance for how dollars are spent, and the rulemaking process. so in all of those areas, i recognize that the covid-19 crisis means that doctors and nurses are on the front lines of saving people's lives and addressing the crisis and ensuring that we don't have any
communities facing dire shortages. particularly rural communities that have faced really tough challenges all throughout this crisis, as well as many urban communities would be a priority of mine. i've been proud to work in the wealth care sphere before. i know how important these programs are in delivering needed care all throughout the country. and i would be honored to work with your office on these issues. sen. rosen: thank you. i'm going to go very quickly. i just have a few seconds left. many of my colleagues on this committee, we talk about modernizing i.t. at every level. it has to be a huge priority. some of those unemployment systems across our country. they are old, they're outdated. they need to be modernized. nevada, of course, we have some of the highest unemployment in the nation. and we have lots of cybersecurity issues. so many i'm going to get right to the point. as someone who has spoken so thoughtfully about your background growing up, relying on social programs that of
course need to have i.t. to get services out there, our unemployment, and other things, what do you think is omb's role in helping federal agencies like department of labor and state agencies to upgrade their technology so we can work more quickly and we can be more nimble in times of crisis like this or potentially other natural disasters, even if they're wildfires, hurricanes, whatever it is. how do we do that, how do you see your role? ms. tanden: senator, i think this is an area in which i am really excited about. i know that technology and i.t. systems may not seem super interesting to people, but i do think that you really drive to the central point, which is how can citizens, consumers, small businesses, really understand what the government is offering
them, the resource and support, and how it can do it in a very efficient and effective way? whether agencies can use apps, whether there can be bots, tech bots that really explain programs to you. small businesses. i think this is an area -- i know senator portman has legislation on the issue of the use of ai. there's real potential for ai in the use of ai and government programs to make sure resources are targeting where they need to go. at the other side of that, we do need to make sure that privacy is protected. so this is a critically important arena. and, as you said, i recognize the importance of how the government works for people from my background and want to ensure that we use technology to really best target resources to families, to people, to small
businesses, to communities that need those resources. and i think there is a real wealth of ways we can do that going forward. sen. rosen: well, thank you so much for that as a former programmer, i look forward to modernizing the i.t. with you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, thank you, senator rosen. ms. tanden, we have completed the first round of questions from members, although we are still expecting one other member to come to ask his first round. so we're going to move to the second round. there are a number of members that have additional questions. we're going to move to the second round, although when senator carper arrives, we will give him the floor. i will start. ms. tanden, the toxic forever chemicals, known as pfas, are a significant health concern for communities in michigan as well as in the country. and we spoke earlier about these chemicals, although michigan has over 200 sites, we expect we'll be finding many more sites across the country in the years ahead.
and while michigan and other states have been making progress setting drinking water standards, unfortunately the federal government has not set those standards. and, as you know, omb has a significant role in reviewing and clearing public health protections and supporting other pfas actions. so my question is, if confirmed, how will you manage the federal government's response to pfas contamination crises and ensure communities that have been dealing with this challenge for far too many years have the support that they need to get moving on with some cleanup? ms. tanden: thank you, senator. i really appreciate your leadership on this issue. and as we discussed, this is a challenge in michigan, but not michigan alone. it is a problem. pfas is found in communities across the country, and i appreciate how michigan has done tremendous work ahead of the curve in many ways to address pfas. but you're absolutely right that this is an issue for federal
concern because of the national scope. and president biden has committed to ensuring that pfas is designated a hazardous substance as we look through the procurement process, we can make sure that we are looking at substitutes for pfas. and that with make sure that we are enforcing basic safety protections as we approach a regulatory process, which really understands the impact of pfas on communities, on health of people. and the federal government is a real partner to address this real public health concern. and i would very much welcome the opportunity to work with your staff and the michigan delegation that has shown so much leadership on these issues. sen. peters: well, i appreciate that. and if confirmed, the commitment that i would like to hear from you right now is that we will get a quick omb review of this
current administration's actions regarding this. speed is of the essence. ms. tanden: absolutely, senator. i would look forward to a very expeditious review and working with your office. sen. peters: thank you, thank you. to me it's common sense, particularly in the middle of this economic crisis that when the federal government spends money, taxpayer money, that they should be spending it on money on products that are made here in america to help support american workers and businesses, which are by far the best in the world. i was pleased to see president biden's executive order strengthening by american provisions and creating a made-in-america office at the omb. so if confirmed, what steps will you take to implement this incredibly important executive order, and what are your plans for leveraging the made-in-america office to ensure that american workers, businesses, and their families benefit by this action? ms. tanden: senator, i really
want to say how much i appreciate your leadership on buy american and the leadership of many members on this committee on the issue of using federal resources, the real idea behind the executive order was that when we were using federal resources that those resources should go to help create jobs in the united states. good-paying jobs in the united states. and so the executive order outlines the new office within the procurement office, the made in america office. there's also analysis of publishing all waivers, so people actually understand the public has an understanding of these issues and also may create some incentive structures within agencies to ensure that they are really doing the work of trying to find american companies to when we are allocating federal resources. that is a top concern. but i also look forward to working with you and other members of this committee on this topic.
and to the extent we can push agencies and really create the right incentive structure for agencies to service the needs that consumers and the public have but do it in a way that employs americans with good-paying jobs, add that as a central focus for the president, one of the reasons why the executive order was one of the executive orders he put out in his first week. sen. peters: well, i appreciate that answer. and we will be working closely together on this very important topic. the other issue that has been raised by a number of my colleagues, and you've answered questions related to cybersecurity and how important it is. it's a major focus here for us in this committee to make sure those systems are secure. but a challenge has been hiring qualified cybersecurity
professionals to work in the federal government, as well as ways to fully utilize the expertise that does exist in the government. last congress i introduced bipartisan federal rotational cyber workforce program act, which would create a program that allows cyber professionals within the federal government to rotate into positions with other agencies temporarily, to be able to move around, something where we have seen models in private industry in other places be very successful and making sure that individuals don't get siloed, whether it's a federal agency or a particular department within a large organization, a large company, for example. and when they share that information, they develop new skills, it helps us attract talent because of the excitement of being able to see many different aspects of cybersecurity and allows us to retain experts as well. the bill passed the senate unanimously. and i'm going to be working to reintroduce and enact this legislation in congress. my question to you is if confirmed, will you commit to working with me to see this legislation enacted and then implemented? and, second, what other steps would you take to ensure that
federal agencies are able to hire the talent that they need to deal with this growing threat? ms. tanden: senator, i really appreciate your leadership in recognizing that one of the challenges with cybersecurity has been the expertise of the workforce and the skills of the workforce and being able to attract cyber experts, security experts into the federal workforce is one of the ways that we can actually redress this problem. so i would absolutely commit to working with you in this regard. also with your legislation that you've proposed, we have learned a fair amount from the u.s. digital service that you can attract top talent to solve problems in the federal government, the usds has been effective in working with agencies on what i would describe as killer challenges around technology and that that's been an innovative mechanism in how we share information and actually use resources like that to effect cybersecurity, not just the delivery of services i think is something that i am very
interested in exploring. but i really welcome the opportunity to work with you on your legislation because i do believe at the end of the day it is a manner and mechanism by which we will actually protect our information, and the agencies themselves and the information of the public. sen. peters: well, thank you. and i know in our past conversations we have talked, and i mentioned in my opening comments your focus on transparency and how we need to make sure that we are as as transparent as possible. and in the c.a.r.e.s. act i worked closely with senator johnson to create detailed reporting requirements, regulated transparency in the pandemic relief spending that we're seeing. so i would certainly hope that you would lean in heavily on that issue so that the american taxpayers have faith in how money is being spent for their best interest. ms. tanden: absolutely, senator. and i will just briefly say that i very much appreciate and welcome the oversight role of this committee.
and i appreciate information is important for oversight. and so not just on c.a.r.e.s. act expenditures or covid-19, but on information this committee is seeking i will be a willing partner, and if there are, as i've said to various senators in my meetings, if there are challenges with getting information, i will call you, i will talk with you directly about what those challenges are and the timelines because i appreciate that policymakers need accurate information in order to make good policy. sen. peters: absolutely. well, thank you for that statement. senator portman, i know you have additional questions. sen. portman: great. thank you, chairman. and i can guarantee there will be some challenges in getting information. there always is. and this committee in particular with our oversight responsibilities needs that counter transparency to do our work well. as i said earlier, most what we do in that area is not just bipartisan. it's kind of nonpartisan. so we need that.
and we haven't always gotten it. on the regulatory issues we talked a lot about earlier the need for cost benefit analysis. and i disagreed on independent agencies i think in terms of where they fit in, but i hope you'll take a look at that on permitting reform. you and i talked about this quite a bit in our conversation. this is an area where we have been able to find that sweet spot between republicans and democrats in 2015, legislation was passed bipartisan senator mccaskill and myself, called fas 41 because it was part of the transportation bill, section 41. and it's been amazing. it's helped a lot of good projects get across the finish line, and it saved a lot of money. it's created a lot of jobs. it saved over $1 billion in costs, we know. and that's a very low conservative estimate. there have been four recent projects that have saved substantial funding. they support 20,000 jobs, by the way. they have saved more than ten
years in permitting delays, just these four projects in the last year. this is one that works. i've spent some time with the council itself and omb plays a coordinating role here. so, i appreciated your commitment on the call to work with me to ensure that we can lift this sunset that's on fast 41 now without making policy changes to the law so that the permitting council can continue its good work past 2022. will you commit today to working with me to pass a sunset removal for fast 41 that retains the current law? ms. tanden: yes, senator. and i do want to appreciate your leadership, the leadership of this committee. you are absolutely right, this has been a very successful program, a 60% reduction in time for permitting, a 60% since 2018, a 60% reduction in time is also a big saving in resources to the government but also for people who are trying to build major projects. and as we talked about in our
discussion, i recognize that the permitting -- the long time it can take for permitting is actually a real challenge in the united states. sen. portman: any time when we're all talking about infrastructure, it's very unpopular to talk about how to find the money for it. this helps federal dollars for -- ms. tanden: absolutely. sen. portman: so can you answer my question on whether you support taking off with sunset? ms. tanden: yes, i do. sen. portman: the made in america office, i was pleased to see the executive order strengthen this. which would codify some of those good ideas. in other ways this new eo does weaken the domestic content requirements. it is troubling to me to see on section 8 replacing the component test with a new value added test, replacing the component test whereby 50% of the components, most would be made in america, it appears contrary to the buy america act.
moreover, replacing the component test in order to count labor cost sounds nice, but it's counter protective. labor's already counted in the cost of the component in. this way the eo risks reducing the amount of progress being procured. so it may actually throw american workers under the bus. as a way to calculate the qualifications of u.s.-made goods? ms. tanden: well, first, let me say, senator, that i really welcome the opportunity to work with you. and the intent here is to not weaken protections to ensure that we are creating jobs in the united states and helping companies in the united states. so, if there is some way in which we can work with you on this, we would welcome that opportunity. because i want to say that the goal of the buy america provision is to strengthen the ability of us to in the procurement process select
american companies -- sen. portman: well, thank you. ms. tanden: so i just welcome that opportunity. sen. portman: i think you will find this component was running the other way. and i don't think it's advertent. on the buy america executive order that president biden blocked on day one that president trump had put into place, i also have concerns. this was a rule that increased the amount of content from 50% to 55% for iron and steel products to 90% from 50% for iron and steel in particular. this was viewed as a big victory for american industry. a blanket regulatory freeze was put out in the beginning, but can you commit to adopting improvements on behalf of american workers? ms. tanden: i would absolutely work was you to make sure our buy america projects are as strong as possible. sen. portman: it may have been
inadvertent, but the impact is to hurt manufacturing in this country. on the i.t. front, we talked about the need to modernize, and we did pass this idea to modernize our federal websites. but we need to do much more on the artificial intelligence front you mentioned earlier, there are two issues. the previous administration launched a process that omb issued in the private sector and they also signed the ai government act which created a similar process to regulate our own internal use of ai. so we've got two things going on. both are broadly supported by industry and civil society. would you commit to continuing these popular omb processes so we can quickly and effectively get guidance out to agencies regarding the regulation of artificial intelligence? ms. tanden: absolutely. sen. portman: on cyber issues, this massive breach we talked about earlier, solar winds confirms what we've known for a long time, our subcommittee here called dsi did an investigation which was unfortunately a wake-up call saying that agencies have failed to comply year after year with the basic cybersecurity requirements,
basic hygiene, as they say, primarily with the federal information security modernization act, fisma. and they're required to notify congress if they experience a major incident. omb is charged with developing this guidance, by the way, to determine when a cyberattack is a major incident. unfortunately in the area of solar winds, again, massive attack, the worst breach we've ever had in the history of our country. only a handful of industries -- only a handful of agencies reported major incidents, which was why the u.s. government was not on top of this sooner. could you look at that current standard and believe that it needs to be revisited? ms. tanden: absolutely. and i would say transparency to the congress and the public around cyber incidents is really vital. obviously, consumers are affected, the public is affected by these attacks, and information is really a cornerstone. sen. portman: well, i've got
more questions in that area with regard to omb's role on cyber, because, again, unfortunately this latest attack has just magnified the fact that we're woefully behind in our agencies. and, again, the private sector needs guidance as well. one final question. i understand from my staff we can be honest about the problems facing social security. i would agree. it seems that we need to build trust now in order to get people out of their partisan fox holes to at least discuss these issues seriously. can you commit to me that you will work in good faith to help educate the american people about the problems facing social security and give members of both parties some running room they need to start laying out potential solutions? ms. tanden: yes, senator. i would say president biden has put forward ideas on social security solvency, lifting the payroll cap for families over 400,000 of income. but i appreciate the bipartisan interest in these issues, and i
welcome a conversation about these, and anything we can do to -- any way i can be a partner in that i would welcome that opportunity. sen. portman: thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator portman. senator carper, you're recognized to ask your questions. sen. carper: thanks, mr. chairman. ms. tanden, nice to see you. welcome. how are you? ms. tanden: nice to see you, senator. sen. carper: when i was 29 i was elected state treasurer of delaware, and a guy named pete dupont was elected governor that same day. he turned out to be a great governor. he assumed leadership of the state with the highest marginal personal income tax rate in the country 19.6%. we could not balance our budgets for nothing. we had no pension fund. we had no cash management system. we had no cash. what little we had was in a state owned bank was about to go under. and we had the lowest rate of startup of doing businesses in the country. and i got to be state treasurer. and people refer to me as sometimes, well, they call me many things here. but among kinder things they
call me recovering governor. but i'm also recovering state treasurer. and i believe things that are worth having are worth paying for. we have a great partner in trying to make sure we get the dollars worth, the value from the tax dollars that we do spend. and one of the primary jobs of this committee is senator johnson knows well and senator peters knows well, and senator portman knows well. one of our major jobs is to do oversight. and we have subcommittees that focus on that here. and we have a great partner in gio, in the inspectors general. every two years beginning for new congress i think in february, gio puts out what they call their high-risk list. and i describe it as a high-risk way of wasting money. one of the things that they have harped on for years was improper payments. and including payments to dead people. when we send out the first round of direct payment checks, we
sent out about $1.4 billion to dead people. and that is just one of many items on the high-risk list. they're going to come up with a new list. i call it my to do list. we have the opportunity to work with the administration, with gio, with the inspectors general, to go after real waste. there's plenty of waste, fraud, and abuse. i would just say one of the items on the high-risk list was sending money to dead people. i'm proud of working with john kneely kennedy and rand paul. a member of this committee. but another issue in addition to that is payment integrity. make sure that the monies that we're paying out are focused on where we need to focus. but are you familiar with the high-risk list? ms. tanden: yes, i am, senator.
i appreciate -- i would actually [inaudible] sen. carper: it's great. ms. tanden: [inaudible] sen. carper: let me just interrupt you for a second. thank you very much for that. one of the items that has been on the high-risk list for a long time is giving the irs the resources they need so they can actually collect the taxes they're owed. we want to make sure that other people that are wealthier than us are paying their fair share. and that is one of the perennial items on the list. let's do a better job of collecting monies that is owed by people. and my hope is it will get our colleagues to support doing that, including the finance
committee that mr. portman and i serve on. i want to mention postal reform. the constitution, as you know, spells out the creation of the post office, calls for a creation of post office to really unite us as a country. and the first post master general was a guy named ben franklin, as you may recall. i remember when i was in southeast asia how important the mail was for our squadron. it's not quite like it was 30, 40 years ago. having said that, during this last election where a lot of people were afraid to go out of their houses because of the pandemic, the idea that they could vote by mail and know their vote would be counted, tabulated and would be safe started to renew confidence. and maybe the post office is an idea that we shouldn't relegate
to the graveyard. and the idea that people can have packages, all kinds of stuff including food, delivered to their homes, gives the postal service the ability to deliver the last mile to the folks at fedex and prime. i think there is role for the postal service. i just want to put this on your radar screen. this is something that needs to be addressed. and it can be. we studied this to death. we have a pretty good idea what needs to be done. and i would like to get some time on your schedule and literally in the weeks to come and whoever you want to drag along with you to talk with us about this. there are several others who share my interest. but every now and then, you feel like there's a time when the time is right to address a particular issue, and i think this is the right time to do that. and we'd love it if you could be a good partner. long-term fiscal sustainability.
the question i have there is it took only two years after the end of world war ii for our government to run an annual surplus, two years and they were back. given the need to effectively respond to the pandemic, it will likely take longer than two years to get our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path. what are the actions that you think we should take in the long run to return our economy to a more sustainable fiscal path? i would say i think one of them, i had this conversation with the president-elect about a month ago. and we have a saying in delaware, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. and for us the main thing is -- we actually talked about this. the main thing is to get on top of the pandemic, to make sure the vaccination we have ample supply, we have the delivery systems working with state and local governments and other entities that we get people vaccinated, vaccinated, vaccinated. if we can do that, that's the main thing and then we're on our way to an economic recovery.
>> ms. tanden, would you double check your mic to make sure it's on? ms. tanden: i'm so sorry. my apologies. senator, i really appreciate the issues you raised. and just on the last one, i think the administration recognizes that economic recovery is our central obligation going forward. and, truthfully, a strong economic recovery will help the financial picture of the united states and redress long-term sustainability issues. i think there is various analysis of where we will be, but a stronger more robust recovery will put us in a better financial footing going forward. we do have other challenges, the aging of the population, fiscal sustainability over the long term is a critical issue. i have appreciated the bipartisan action over the last year to address the covid crisis in the way we address crises. but i also recognize the importance of long-term sustainability. and i would welcome the opportunity to work with you on the post office irs resources.
it is critical that we have resources for the irs so that we have more equitable insurance that all americans are paying their fair share. sen. carper: my wife says i focus way too much time on postal issues. and she also says i don't focus nearly enough time on planning for my death and my burial. and the other day she was bugging me driving home from church. and we stopped at a traffic light by a cemetery. and i knew as soon as i saw the cemetery and we were going to have a few minutes, i knew where she was going to go. she goes i don't know where you want to be buried. i don't even know what you want on your tombstone. and i said, just let it go. she wouldn't. so how about this. i said how about "return to sender." and that was the end of the conversation. ms. tanden: [laughter]
i'm sorry. is that okay that i laughed? >> senator carper, we all appreciate your passion for the postal server. senator johnson. sen. johnson: in norway there's a common phrase on a grave stone talk for ault. i appreciate the conversation on fiscal sustainability. last time i checked a couple days ago, the gross federal debt is at $27.85 trillion. that's 21.7 is debt held by the public. it represents over 130% of our gdp, the size of our economy. with the passage of another $1.9 trillion covid relief package, that'll put it up combined with additional deficit spending this year over $30 trillion, over 140% of gdp. if we just return to our 40-year average somewhere around 5%, that's going to add more than a trillion dollars per year just interest payments. so, i guess my first question for you, do you find that troubling?
is that something that concerns you? because it concerns me a lot. doesn't seem to concern a whole lot of people here in washington , d.c. ms. tanden: senator -- [inaudible] -- sorry. senator, i think we should be absolutely concerned about long-term fiscal health for the country. you focused on interest rates. interest rates are currently at historic lows. and i do think we should recognize that even in 2018, 2019 where we had very low unemployment, relatively high gdp growth, you know, particularly compared to the last several decades really, interest rates remained low. and whether that's a new phenomenon or, you know, an anomaly, i think i would say to you and commit to you that as director of the office of management budget, interest rates are something we would monitor very closely. secretary yellen the other day discussed the importance of monitoring interest rates very closely. but it has been the case that we
have not experienced high interest rates or high inflation in many, many years. sen. johnson: so, one of the things that can spark high interest rates, first of all if we're no longer the world's reserve currency. and as china gets larger and other people try to replace us as the world's reserve currency, that's where we become greece or worse overnight. the other thing would be inflationary pressures. there have been some pretty interesting articles written by lawrence summers, former treasury secretary under president clinton. and jason furman worked for president obama. i think it's fair to say that they expressed concerns about overheating the economy. we've already passed $4 trillion in covid relief. that's about 18% to 19% of our economy. we're contemplating it looks like another $1.9 trillion. i thought a very interesting article was published by the "wall street journal" by senator graham.
i find his figures very credible. the "wall street journal" does a pretty good job of fact-checking this as well. let me just kind of run these by you here. real per capita disposable income is up 5% year over year. savings is up $1.6 trillion in 2020. private business investment's up 25%. the federal reserve right now is estimating estimating 2021 growth at 4.2%. the imf increased their estimate to 5.1% for the u.s. economy. that disposable income growth of 5.5% is before the $900 billion covid relief package even kicks in. and i think one of the interesting stats that was in that article is that average households in the bottom 20% of earnings, the bottom 20% of earners got on average $45,000
of transfer payments during 2020. $45,000. i imagine all that stuff was tax-free. so, again, when you had jason furman, lawrence summers, phil graham concerned about overheating our economy, potentially sparking inflation and driving up interest rates, again, there are still people suffering. there's no doubt about that. but i think that speaks more the fact that the $4 trillion we've spent wasn't directed very well. so i just kind of want your comment in terms of your concern about overheating the economy with another $1.9 trillion when, quite honestly, i think we haven't spent or even obviated some of the past covid relief. ms. tanden: senator, i appreciate the points you're making, and i would say the following. first, the gdp, the estimates on gdp growth that we all hope take place are estimates that, you
know, 5% gdp growth to the latter half of 2021 would take place after a 2.5% contraction in 2020 from the covid crisis. but i appreciate the points made about inflation. inflation is an area in which we -- you know, that eats into wages and economic growth. on the other hand, we have strategies to deal with interest rates and inflation. as you know, the fed has tools that it no longer has to -- really has no deals to deal with -- no tools to deal with economic growth, but it has tools to address interest rates and inflationary pressures. now, i will say to you both myself, speaking for myself but also secretary yellen discussed this the other day, which is we -- we have to be concerned about inflationary pressures, but the real challenges right now is that we can face the potential of significant scarring in this economy, and it is vital, and i
believe the president recognizes it's vital that we act. sen. johnson: again, i think hour economy is just poised to take off. there's such pent-up demand and dramatic increase in savings and disposable income, it's going to take off on its own. again, there are people hurting so i want to talk a little bit about targeting, for example, the direct payments. the first two rounds were just shotgunned out to everybody, and i'll give you the facts on that. the depth of the covid recession, we were down about 25 million jobs from a record number of jobs in january 2020. right now we're about 9 million jobs down, but the direct payment checks went out to 166 million americans, about 115 million households and according to a study by the federal reserve bake of new york 1,800 of the first checks was spent on -- only 18% of the first checks was spent on essential savings. 36% was on savings and 35% on debt payment.
the second round even less would be spent on essentials so wouldn't it make sense in this next round as they are crafting this bill to really target any direct payments? by the way, we spent half a trillion on direct payments, and, again, very small percent went to essential payments. $45,000 on average to the bottom 20% of income earners in terms of transfer payments. can't we do a better job when we're $30 trillion in debt, of targeting? ms. tanden: senator, you know, i hear you on some of the -- there is targeted support within the american recovery plan around unemployment insurance, s.n.a.p. and other areas. i think one of the benefits is that we learned is that the cares program targeted those that were struggling. we were able to insulate a lot
of the suffering from the actions that were quick and to some degree really directed checks to a broad swath of the public. sen. johnson: i would like to work with the administration trying to target this. again, i know it's not easy, but i think it's essential. ms. tanden: thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator johnson. senator ossoff for your additional questions. sen. ossoff: thank you, mr. chairman. ms. tanden, we're in the midst now of this debate as we just heard from senator johnson regarding these direct payments and what the income thresholds should be, and i want to just paint a picture of a story that i think is all too common in our country right now. a nurse in georgia who has been working on the front lines of this pandemic for the last year, working extraordinarily long hours at grave personal risk,
many front line health care workers who have themselves been infected, who then had to isolate from their own families. many frontline health care workers in georgia like so many across the country who have had to bear the burden of child care obligations amidst the full or partial closures of public schools, all of the stress and anxiety and cost that have been crushing working class and middle class families in this country for the last year, well, according to the bureau of labor statistics, the average annual salary of a registered nurse in the united states is $77,000. do you agree with me that nurses in this country need and deserve direct economic relief? ms. tanden: i do, senator, and i would also just acknowledge the
incredible role they have played in saving lives and keeping our society together during this covid crisis. sen. ossoff: and that working people in this country at those income levels need the kind of relief that's been promised to them, and i commend the president and vice president in their rescue plan for proposing to provide direct economic relief to people making incomes in those levels. do you concur with the president's rescue plan? ms. tanden: absolutely, and i do think it recognizes that families are suffering in many different ways, and that is why the support is so critical. sen. ossoff: and how do you think it might reflect upon this institution if i could ask you to comment as you see fit were we to ignore the pain and suffering of nurses in this country, teachers in this country, who are making working class and middle class incomes, who have gone through all of the
pain of the last year, were we in the senate, we were not as public servants summon the will to deliver the direct relief that people so desperately need right now? ms. tanden: senator, i would just say that i think that for all policy-makers the fact that the congress has acted in the past quickly and aggressively has given some people hope, and i think we should try to continue at this very difficult time for many families to provide that hope with real resources to all families that are in need. sen. ossoff: thank you so much. i want to discuss rural health care with you for a moment. ms. tanden: mm-hmm. sen. ossoff: georgia has lost nine rural hospitals in the last ten years. the hospital in cuthbert, georgia closed in october in the middle of the pandemic. will you commit to working with my office to determine which federal programs are available
to surge health care capacity and resources authorized by congress for the provision of rural health care and rural health clinics and georgia and rural communes across the -- rural communities across the country? ms. tanden: i will absolutely work with you in this regard. this is an important priority also for president biden, and if i'm privileged to be confirmed i would welcome the opportunity to work with you on this, and i would also just say that rural hospitals, the importance of -- rural hospitals are important institutions at all times, but during the covid crisis to ensure that we are reaching rural communities, it is vital that we build up the health infrastructure in rural communities, so i really welcome the opportunity to work with you on this topic. sen. ossoff: thank you so much. i would also like to discuss the port of savannah in georgia. this is one of the most vital transportation infrastructure components in the united states. it handles around 10% of all
containerized cargo in the united states. it's one of the largest and fastest growing ports in the world, and it's vital to georgia's economy, to the u.s. economy. it's also of geopolitical and strategic significance. the project to deepen the port of savannah is now nearly 40% over budget and two years behind schedule, and i was just discussing this morning with the savannah mayor van johnson. it's currently scheduled to be completed in january of 2022. will you take personal responsibility for and commit to working with my office and with mayor johnson and local officials in georgia to ensure that federal resources committed to deepening the port of savannah is as swift
as possible? ms. tanden: if confirmed, i would welcome the opportunity to work with the mayor to ensure that we are working as expeditiously as possible on this port. sen. ossoff: thank you so much. final question for you, miss tanden. this is about corporate influence in the regulatory process, and i think although there's a lot of partisanship in washington in the senate, we can agree that corporate influence in policy-making, in rule-making, in national politics is something that is a problem when either party is in power here. what steps will you take in your capacity as the leader of ho mb -- leader of omb, which plays such an important role in reviewing and rule-making processes across the federal government to ensure that new regulations don't just benefit the most powerful trade groups and entrenched interests who have lobbying and advocacy power and who can influence the rule-making process and to ensure that regulations, whether they are new or to conduct a review of existing and past regulations are not anti-competitive and damaging to
competition in the marketplace? ms. tanden: thank you, senator, for raising what i consider one of a really critical issue in the rule-making process and one that president biden i believe was trying to get to when he talked about equity in the rule-making process. really, to be frank, and the rule-making process, corporations, special interests, have a big voice in washington and can overwhelm the rule-making process. and really i'm absolutely committed to a rule-making process that's focused on social welfare, the public good and ensuring rules are protecting americans in all their spheres and making sure that the voices of real people and the needs and their protections are primary and not secondary to corporate or special industries a primary goal for us. sen. ossoff: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> thank you, senator ossoff, and once again congratulations as a new member of the committee, and here at your first hearing you get the last word so it's very auspicious occasion. ms. tanden, thank you for your testimony here today. we will now be closing out the hearing and i have a little bit of housekeeping as we do that. miss tanden has made financial disclosures and provided responses to biographical and pre-hearing questions submitted by this committee. without objection this, information will be part of the hearing record with the exception of the financial data which are on file and available for public inspection in the committee offices. the hearing will remain open until 12:00 p.m. tomorrow, february 10, for the submission of statements and questions for the record, and with that this hearing is adjourned. ms. tanden: thank you so much, senator. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021]