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Hawley Grills Neera Tanden over Corporate, Foreign Donations to Think Tank

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2020. (Ken Cedeno/Reuters Pool)

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) grilled Neera Tanden on corporate and foreign donations to her think tank Center for American Progress in a Tuesday hearing on her nomination to head the Office of Budget and Management.

Tanden has drawn criticism from Republicans over her past statements, including accusing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) of having “broken” the Senate, the Supreme Court, and “our democracy.” Progressives have also expressed disappointment with Tanden, a former aide to Hillary Clinton who has disparaged Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). (Tanden allegedly entered a physical altercation with Sanders’s former campaign manager.)

Several media outlets suggested that “you solicited tens of millions of dollars in donations from Wall Street and Silicon Valley companies as president of the Center for American Progress, including very large contributions from Mark Zuckerberg,” Hawley told Tanden during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Hawley listed donations including $665,000 from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, $1 million from the managing partner of Bain Capital and $2.5 million dollars from the United Arab Emirates. In 2017, CAP national security expert Brian Katulis advised U.A.E. ambassador Yusuf al-Otaiba on how to work with the Trump administration regarding Egypt policy, The Intercept reported at the time.

“Given this record, how can you assure us that you’ll work to see that these Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms don’t exercise undue influence…in the making of government policy?” Hawley asked.

“I and the Center for American Progress aggressively [took on] the role of Facebook and tech companies, have called for higher taxes on companies, [and] regulation of companies,” Tanden responded. “I’m proud of the record of the Center for American Progress and policies that would limit the power of Wall Street and limit the power of tech companies.”

Hawley has emerged as a Big Tech hawk in the Republican caucus. However, the senator’s book on the subject was dropped by its first publisher, which accused Hawley of playing a role in the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol in early January.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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