Neera Tanden is back. Could she be more powerful?

This closeness to power is a compromise from the indisputable influence she would have wielded as Biden’s budget director in the Office of Management and Budget, where she would have had great influence over fiscal and regulatory policy. . But it also means that she is free from the headaches that can come with the responsibilities of acting as Secretary to the Cabinet, such as grilling oversight committees or sparring with Senate members with whom she had dated. already faced.

“While I think she was uniquely qualified to lead OMB, her role as the President’s senior advisor will give her the platform and the opportunity to render tremendous service to the public,” said John Podesta, an ally of Tanden who founded the Center. for American Progress, the Tanden think tank led before leaving for the White House.

For now, the White House is turning to Tanden – who served as a health care adviser in the Obama administration – to help manage the potential fallout from an impending Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act ( TO THAT). If the Tory-majority 6-3 court overturned portions of the massive healthcare law, the Biden administration would likely have to quickly make a vigorous effort to restore and salvage a system Democrats see as essential to providing access to healthcare. healthcare to millions of people and their greatest political achievements in decades.

While at CAP, Tanden helped mobilize opposition to then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overthrow the ACA. The White House has brought in Tanden now, saying the the stakes are just as high with a SCOTUS decision looming.

“Especially after the country has fought so hard to make progress in overcoming the pandemic, the stakes in the Supreme Court’s ACA case could not be higher,” the press secretary said. from the White House Jen Psaki in a statement to POLITICO. “For millions of Americans to lose their health care or for covid to declare pre-existing disease would be horrible, especially during a historic public health crisis. And the President knew that Neera had brought the right credentials in policy and advocacy, as well as initiative and leadership, to take the reins of this important planning project for the potential outcomes of this case, as well as for himself. ensure that the federal government’s approach to online accessibility is what it needs. be in the 21st Century.”

Another White House official described Tanden’s role as similar to how senior adviser Gene Sperling was hired to take charge of the US bailout.

There will be complications that come with being a senior advisor. The position can be limiting as there are sometimes ill-defined responsibilities and limited staff, said Jennifer Palmieri, former Obama communications director in the White House and spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. She didn’t think this was a problem with Tanden, who has sailed these waters before.

“A senior White House adviser can be a huge influence, if you know how to operate it properly and navigate the larger bureaucracy,” Palmieri said. “This is Neera’s third White House, the second time as a political adviser working on health care. She knows how to leverage the role to have a big impact.

In addition to serving in the Obama White House, Tanden worked at Bill Clinton’s White House as associate director for domestic policy. Her relationship with Klain dates back to Clinton’s time in the White House. “She’s very close to Ron, there’s a lot of mutual respect there,” Palmieri said.

In the current White House, Tanden’s portfolio – which in addition to preparing for the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare, includes helping the US Digital Service upgrade government websites and digitize agency services – is expected to expand. Historically, senior White House advisers have taken on a range of roles, delivering strategic messages and advice to the president and leading special projects.

“I think over time she will be there and work on other things and I would be surprised if that didn’t turn into something meaningful because she is talented and they need help.” said Shekar Narasimhan, chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund, which saw Tanden last week at the White House. “I suspect his responsibilities grow over time, not the other way around.”

Tanden’s candidacy for OMB director angered senators who complained of being a political lightning rod and staunch supporter – especially on social media, where she targeted individual senators in very personal tweets.

But her withdrawal left original American activists and interest groups unhappy, saying she had been unfairly targeted because of her gender and race. Tanden is the daughter of Indian immigrants.

After Tanden withdrew her appointment, the White House elevated OMB deputy director Shalanda Young, who is black, to interim director. The White House has assured various elected officials and interest groups that Young will become the permanent director of the OMB, according to several sources. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including influential Biden Majority Whip ally Jim Clyburn (DS.C.), defended Young even before Tanden was appointed.

Asian American activists, frustrated that Biden has not named an Asian American as one of his 15 cabinet secretaries, plan to continue to lobby. Asian Americans have served in presidential cabinets, including Donald Trump’s, since 2000.

Currently, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Vice President Kamala Harris are the only Asian Americans to hold Cabinet-level positions in the Biden administration.

“When a position becomes vacant – and you and I know that in a four-year term there will be vacancies in Cabinet, whether that happens next year or the following year – we would absolutely press for this position to be filled by a qualified Asian. American, ”Narasimhan said. “It’s not over yet. Do we hold any grudges? No. We just anticipate and wait for the next vacancy before we all unite and say ‘hey, it’s our turn too.'”

Asian American groups are pleading for Nani Coloretti, Obama’s former deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to be appointed director of the OMB. Coloretti would be the first Filipino American to be appointed to a Cabinet-level position. She is currently senior vice president of the Urban Institute think tank.

An OMB candidate is expected to be named within the next two weeks, after the budget was released on Friday, according to two people familiar with the plans.

Even though AAPI groups are asking for more Cabinet representation, they recognize that having Tanden in the White House is a major advantage.

“We are delighted to have Neera Tanden as a member of our community, a highly skilled South Asian woman and political leader, represented at the highest levels of government and who we hope will serve as a person in the world. west wing that will raise the issues that we everyone cares about, ”said Neil Makhija, executive director of IMPACT, an American Indian rights group that has been in contact with Tanden.

“Neera clearly faced a double standard,” Makhija said. “I hope some understand that we are a community of color and that we deserve positive action to increase our representation. I recognize that we have work to do to build power. … There must be a deliberate effort to support our representation, as there is with all communities or colors.

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