It seems US President-elect Joe Biden is all set to keep one of his electoral promises – the Indian American community will have a significant presence in his cabinet. Reportedly, he is mulling over roping in Indian-origin Neera Tanden to take charge for the White House Office of Management and Budget as the director – an important position in any presidential cabinet. If confirmed by the US Senate, Neera Tanden, 50, will be the first ever Indian American and the first woman of color to hold a cabinet post in a Democratic administration.
Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is being considered for the Commerce Secretary position in President-elect Joe Biden’s federal cabinet. Currently, she is on the board at Amazon. She was among the 59 CEOs who signed a letter to the Trump Administration, expressing serious concerns over the executive orders on H1B visa, H4 EAD and immigration in general. She had once said, “Me and politics don’t mix at all. I am too outspoken to be diplomatic.”
A close confidante of Hillary Clinton, Neera Tanden will be overseeing the budget for various federal agencies under the Biden-Harris administration. She is currently the President of the Center for American Progress, a Washington DC-based think tank. In addition, she has been one of the few leading forces behind several Democratic presidential campaigns including for Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008. It was Tanden whose significant efforts helped draft the Affordable Care Act in Barack Obama’s presidential regime.
Notably, her journey from relying on federal welfare programs to the political corridor of heavyweights is a most inspiring story of American Dreams. Born in Massachusetts and brought up by a single mother, Tanden holds a BA degree in Arts from the University of California and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School. Her parents divorced when she was only 5. She had to face hardships and never shied away from saying how her family survived on food coupons in the United States.
Early in her public service career, Indian American Neera Tanden worked as an associate director of former President Bill Clinton’s campaigns on healthcare reforms and new energy policies. At the same time, she was a senior adviser in the then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s office. If Hillary Clinton had won the presidential elections in 2016, Tanden would have been given a top federal position in her cabinet.
Recognized as one of the 10 most powerful women in Washington DC, Neera Tanden was named to the Restart and Recovery Commission by New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy and tasked with initiatives towards reopening of the state after the pandemic-induced lockdown. Needless to say, her nomination hints at her potential for a pivotal role in shaping the way the Biden administration will respond to the growing unemployment menace and the pandemic-induced economy downturn in the USA.
Neera Tanden having been nominated for the Office of Budget and Management is hailed as a progressive move by Indiaspora, an advocacy group for the Indian community in the USA. Interestingly, the idea of a job guarantee to “help the economically stagnant regions in the US recover” was endorsed by none other than Tanden in 2018.
Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Arun Majumdar among the Indian Americans in the Biden-Harris transition team are also being considered for leading positions in the Joe Biden administration. Dr. Vivek Murthy is a potential nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Arun Majumdar is a potential pick for the Department of Energy.