Neera Tanden Named As Biden’s Staff Secretary

Neera Tanden, the former president of the Center for American Progress whose nomination as White House budget director was pulled earlier this year, has been named President Joe Biden’s staff secretary, a White House official confirmed Friday.

Tanden has been working in the White House since May as a senior adviser to the president. Her added responsibility as the staff secretary is to control the flow of documents to Biden and other senior staff.

“The Staff Secretary role is the central nervous system of the White House and moves the decision-making process and manages a wide variety of issues for the President,” a White House official said in a statement. The role, a senior position, was once held by now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and John Podesta, who later served as then-President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.

Tanden will replace Jessica Hertz, a former Obama administration attorney who worked more recently in the government affairs office of Facebook. White House officials have praised Hertz as a highly regarded, well-liked member of the team.

Tanden, an Indian American, will be the first woman of color to hold the position. She is well known in Washington as a policy wonk and political strategist. She came to the White House from the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank, where she had served most recently as president and CEO and before that as a deputy to Podesta, the think tank’s founder.

Biden nominated Tanden last year to become his director of the Office of Management and Budget, but the White House withdrew her nomination in March after it became clear that she lacked the votes to get Senate confirmation. Multiple lawmakers, including Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., objected to partisan comments she had previously made on social media.

Tanden previously served as a senior adviser for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services and a policy adviser to the 2008 presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In the Biden White House, Tanden has helped lead the external political effort to pass the Biden economic agenda. She has also been overseeing a review of the U.S. Digital Service, a group of technologists who design and maintain the federal government’s technology infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Biden announced his choice of two other Indian-Americans to hold high office in his administration. They include Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally to the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; and Ravi Chaudhary as Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Air Force.

While Thummalapally does not need confirmation, the nomination of Chaudhary will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Thummalapally, the first Indian-American to be appointed as Ambassador in the history of this country, will now serve as the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the White House announced Oct. 18, 2021.

Chaudhary previously served as a Senior Executive at the U.S. Department of Transportation where he was Director of Advanced Programs and Innovation, Office of Commercial Space, at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In this role, he was responsible for the execution of advanced development and research programs in support of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation mission. While at DOT, he also served as the Executive Director, Regions and Center Operations, where he was responsible for integration and support of aviation operations in nine regions located nationwide.

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