WASHINGTON — Late one night in February 2019, as lawmakers toiled to break a monthslong impasse over funding a wall at the southwestern border, Shalanda Young leaned over to quietly confer with her boss, Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York.
Now was her moment, Ms. Young told Ms. Lowey, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, to issue an ultimatum on funding for Donald J. Trump’s border wall: Republicans could either accept even less than what they had suggested, or Ms. Lowey would walk away from the negotiating table and potentially allow the government to shut down again.
Republicans agreed, and the resulting deal ended a spending fight that had led to the longest government shutdown in history. It is the kind of delicate agreement that has earned Ms. Young bipartisan trust on Capitol Hill, where she was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, 63 to 37, to serve as President Biden’s deputy budget director.
As the first Black woman to serve as staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Young played critical roles on Capitol Hill in negotiating not only the dozen annual spending bills, but also a series of five pandemic relief packages that together totaled $3 trillion and represented the leading edge of a sweeping federal response to the crisis.
Now she is headed to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to become the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. After Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the agency, Neera Tanden, withdrew amid bipartisan opposition, Ms. Young will have a leading role steering the office in the coming weeks as the administration begins to prepare its first budget proposal and pursue an ambitious infrastructure plan.
The administration is set to release its funding priorities next week, the agency confirmed on Tuesday and Bloomberg reported earlier.
Mr. Biden has not yet said whether he will elevate Ms. Young to the position of director. But among lawmakers, she is by far the preferred candidate, having drawn an unusual array of public endorsements from across the political spectrum based on her work on the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Young, a 43-year-old Louisiana native, would be the first Black woman to lead the agency should Mr. Biden nominate her.
“I knew that she was the person who had the skills. She had the knowledge, and she always had a smile,” Ms. Lowey, now retired from Congress, said in an interview. “She’s smart. She’s tough. You can be sure she’ll have the facts.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and top House Democrats have repeatedly and publicly telegraphed their support for Ms. Young to the White House. Even before Ms. Tanden withdrew, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, announced that he would support Ms. Young as director.
“She knows how to bring things together, and that’s what we as appropriators try to do,” Mr. Shelby said on Tuesday. “They’re going to have challenges — a lot of hard work — and they need experienced people.”
The agency will play a key role in fulfilling Mr. Biden’s agenda, as well as overseeing the federal budget and executive regulations. Mr. Trump frequently thrust the office into the spotlight, given his penchant for trying to use government funding to carry out his policy and political agenda.
The most notable instance became the center of the first impeachment charges against Mr. Trump in 2019, when lawyers at the budget office approved a hold on foreign aid to Ukraine as Mr. Trump sought a commitment from the country’s leaders to investigate Mr. Biden and his family.
By then, Ms. Young had already demonstrated her knack for forging bipartisan deals even in the most toxic of political environments. The government shutdown negotiations were a particularly heavy lift.
The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.
Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more
This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.
There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.
The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.
“It was a difficult time for our nation, but through determination and hard work, we reached a solution — and that’s what Shalanda’s best at,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said during her confirmation hearings. “She knows how to work across the aisle to get a deal done.”
Ms. Young spent most of her childhood in Clinton, La. — population at the time 2,000 — where her maternal great-grandparents lived, got married and started a family. She graduated from Loyola University, earned a master’s in health administration from Tulane University and began work in Washington in 2001 at the National Institutes of Health.
She moved to the House Appropriations Committee in 2007 and worked her way up, building credibility with members of both parties during the annual gantlet of late nights brokering the dozen spending bills needed to keep the government fully funded. Rarely are such agreements struck in normal, waking hours. They are usually the product of relentless rounds of haggling, exchanges of legislative proposals and endless phone calls to ensure that every last detail is ironed out and agreed to.
Ms. Young became the staff director of the committee in 2017, at one point showcasing her personal appreciation for the “Game of Thrones” series with a “hand of the queen” brooch during a hearing. An amateur photographer, Ms. Young decorated the office with photos she took, some of her native Louisiana, and sometimes brought her Italian water dog, Izzy, in the office.
“My work on the Appropriations Committee taught me that both sides can compromise without compromising their values — even when that means no one gets everything they want,” Ms. Young told lawmakers. At the budget office, she said, she would try to use “my experience in these halls to ensure both branches operate with mutual respect and work toward solutions that will improve the lives of those we serve.”
Some Republicans, including Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a former director of the agency, declined to back Ms. Young largely because of her support for removing the so-called Hyde amendment from federal spending bills. The perennial provision prohibits federal funds from going toward most abortions.
“I had planned to support Ms. Young based on her testimony before the committee,” Mr. Portman said. “In reviewing her answers to the committee’s questions for the record, though, I’ve got to say I was really troubled by her responses, particularly her strong advocacy for eliminating the Hyde amendment.”
Of the 13 Republicans who supported Ms. Young’s confirmation on Tuesday, eight serve on the appropriations panel and one, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, introduced her during her confirmation hearings.
Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.