Graham Questions Biden OMB Director Nominee on Immigration and Minimum Wage Increase

WASHINGTON – Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today questioned Ms. Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).


  • GRAHAM: “Here's what's happened, thus far in the first three weeks of the [Biden Administration]. We stopped building the wall. We've halted deportations. We canceled [the] Remain in Mexico policy. Withdrew from asylum agreements with [Northern] Triangle nations. We eliminated advanced vetting for terrorists. Reinstated catch and release. We're considering canceling the public charge rule. We're ending travel restrictions with countries with national security concerns. Do you believe that the sum total of these policies will lead to more illegal immigration?”

TANDEN: “I do not, and I would be guided by facts and evidence…”

GRAHAM: “Here are the facts. So, 178 percent increase in single adults coming across the border, this time this year versus last. 50 percent increase in unaccompanied minors. So the fact that you don't see this as a problem is very disturbing.” 


  • GRAHAM: “Do you believe raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost millions of Americans their job?”

TANDEN: “Actually, the most recent data on this, and there's been studies over the last few years, 2018, 2019, indicate that the minimum wage, analyses that have looked at 40 years of minimum wage increases, have found that the elasticity rate is different than previous understandings, and that actually job loss rates are, are relatively low.”

GRAHAM: “So you think 1.5 million people losing their job would be relatively low?”

TANDEN: “No, actually, what I'm saying is that more recent studies, I appreciate that CBO looked at several years…”

GRAHAM: “But you don't accept it?”

TANDEN: “I think that there are, I think the important thing is to be guided by facts and evidence, and there has been a discussion about more recent data being more…”

GRAHAM: “Have you ever run a restaurant?”

TANDEN: “I have not run a restaurant.”

GRAHAM: “Well, you need to go talk to people who have because I think they’ll give you some facts.”

TANDEN: “I would say respectfully Senator we should also talk to the waiters and waitresses.”

GRAHAM: “Yeah, I think they want their jobs. I think that, the tip, doing away with the tip wage is probably bad for them. The best thing you can do for a waiter and a waitress is open up a new restaurant and people hire you at higher wages because a new restaurant in town needs good workers, so that's the way I believe to increase wages.” 

Click here to watch Graham’s full remarks