Meet Neera Tanden, Biden's new Indian-American domestic policy advisor

Described as a "Progressive" and regarded as a "Clinton loyalist", Neera Tanden is the first Indian-American to be appointed as the top policy advisor to US president Joe Biden

Neera Tanden (Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
Neera Tanden (Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Amarabati Bhattacharyya

United States President Joe Biden has picked Indian-origin American public policy expert Neera Tanden (52) as his next domestic policy advisor. Daughter of Indian migrnats, Tanden will replace Biden's longtime advisor Susan Rice, the Biden administration announced Friday.

Tanden will assist President Biden in crafting and implementing the domestic policy agenda, making her the first Asian American to lead any of the three major White House policy councils in history.

"I am pleased to announce that Neera Tanden will continue to drive the formulation and implementation of my domestic policy, from economic mobility and racial equity to health care, immigration and education," said Biden.

Long-time Democratic aide, Tanden was named the White House Staff Secretary in October 2021.

"As Biden's Staff Secretary, Tanden already played a major role in the West Wing, controlling the schedules, briefing books and other paperwork that reach the president’s desk," reports Reuters.

She has worked on several Democratic presidential campaigns, including those of Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992, and Barack Obama in 2008. She has held advisory positions in both the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Tanden also aided Hillary Clinton's election campaign during her Senate run in 2000; later functioning as legislative director during Hillary's tenure as the Senator of New York from 2001 to 2009.

Tanden advised Hillary during her unsuccessful runs in both 2008 and 2016 for the Democratic Presidential Nomination and the General Election campaign respectively.

Regarded as a "Clinton loyalist", Tanden's political career has been extensively aligned with the Clintons. She served as the associate director for domestic policy in the Clinton White House, and as a domestic policy advisor in the First Lady's Office during Bill Clinton's term.

Tanden served as the Domestic Policy Director for Obama's successful general election campaign in 2008. In the Obama administration, she served as senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services, working on President Obama's health reform team in the White House.

Born to immigrant Indian parents in Bedford, Massachusetts, Tanden pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California in 1992 and went on to graduate from Yale Law School with a Juris Doctor in 1996.

As a freshman at UCLA, Tanden met her husaband, American visual artist Benjamin Edwards, who accompanied her in aiding Michael Dukakis' Presidential campaign in 1988.

Tanden has often garnered sharp criticism for her "left-leaning" tweets and opinions, which ultimately compelled her to withdraw her nomination as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2020.

She faced fierce opposition from Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia after being elected as the budget nominee by Joe Biden. During the confirmation hearing, Tanden apologised for several of her tweets attacking various Republican senators.

Biden has backed Tanden's nomination and their long-time collaboration by stating that he has received the "best advice and counsel" from her.

"She has 25 years of experience in public policy, has served three Presidents," said Biden, adding that "she has led one of the largest think tanks in the country for nearly a decade".

"She was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act and helped drive key domestic policies that became part of my agenda. While growing up, Neera relied on some of the critical programs that she will oversee as Domestic Policy Advisor, and I know those insights will serve my Administration and the American people well," said Biden.

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