Shalanda Young 1st Black Woman To Lead White House Budget Already at Work

Shalanda Young, a native of Baton Rouge, La., who serves as Clerk and Staff Director for the House Appropriations Committee,  made history on Tuesday, March 15, after winning Senate confirmation to lead the White House Budget Office, becoming the first Black woman in US History to serve in this key role. Her primary function is to oversee the development and implementation of the federal budget.

As Clerk and Staff Director for the House Appropriations Committee, Young already had oversight for $1.3 trillion in annual appropriations bills. Now as director of the OMB Young will oversee the implementation of President Biden’s vision and directives throughout the Executive Branch.

In a welcome turn of events, Young was confirmed in a bipartisan 61-36 vote with usually combative Republicans who have taken issue with some of Biden’s other minority picks. Even conservative Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) vowed his support, adding 

The OMB carries out its mission through five main functions across executive departments and agencies:

  1. Budget development and execution;
  2. Management, including oversight of agency performance, procurement, financial management, and information technology;
  3. Coordination and review of all significant Federal regulations from executive agencies, privacy policy, information policy, and review and assessment of information collection requests; and
  4. Clearance and coordination of legislative and other materials, including agency testimony, legislative proposals, and other communications with Congress, and coordination of other Presidential actions.
  5. Clearance of Presidential Executive Orders and memoranda to agency heads prior to their issuance.

Congressional Black Caucus members reportedly advocated strongly for the accomplished budget expert to get the job. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also threw their support behind Young for OMB’s top job.

Young moved to Washington in 2002 to serve as a Presidential Management Fellow at the National Institute of Health. She earned a master’s degree from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Loyola University New Orleans, had voiced support for Tanden..

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, Pelosi and Clyburn noted that they take great pride in recommending Young as OMB director as longtime members of the Appropriations Committee.

“We have worked closely with her for several years and highly recommend her for her intellect, her deep expertise on the federal budget, and her determination to ensure that our budget reflects our values as a nation,” the pair wrote. “Her legislative prowess, extensive knowledge of federal agencies, incisive strategic mind, and proven track record will be a tremendous asset to the Biden-Harris administration.”

The statement continued:

“Her leadership at OMB would be historic and would send a strong message that this administration is eager to work in close coordination with Members of Congress to craft budgets that meet the challenges of our time and can secure broad, bipartisan support.”

Young has had to hit the ground running as she is already facing the challenge of meeting funding needs to address the ongoing Covid crisis in the U.S.

White House officials had urged Congress to include the funding in the spending bill to stay on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as a new wave threatens to hit in the next few weeks following Easter and Spring vacations. Without the money, senior administration officials said in a letter to Congress that they will not be able to buy enough booster shots, new vaccines and antiviral pills, and will run out of funding for monoclonal antibody treatments.

“With cases rising abroad, scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months we could see rising cases of COVID-19 here in the United States as well. Waiting to provide funding until we’re in a surge will be too late,” wrote Shalanda Young wrote in a joint statement.

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