Confirmation Hearings Begin for HHS Secretary Nominee

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a nomination hearing for 48-year-old Sylvia Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and President Obama's nominee to serve as the next Health and Human Services Secretary.

If confirmed, Burwell - who previously was president of the Walmart Foundation and before that president of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - would be in charge of continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While Burwell began her confirmation by defending the goals of the new health care law, a topic on which many Republicans have been outspoken in their opposition, she still garnered support from Republicans at the hearing- including endorsements from Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Burr (R-NC). Burwell pledged her bipartisan cooperation, assuring members that, if confirmed, she would work closely with lawmakers on "our shared priorities" and finding solutions to issues that "transcend parties."

Burwell will face her final confirmation hearing this week in the Senate Finance Committee, whose members will decide whether to send her nomination to the Senate floor for a final vote. If the HELP Committee hearing is any indicator, Senate confirmation is expected to be a smooth one for Burwell. Last year, when Burwell was up for OMB head, her appointment sailed through the Senate on a 96-0 vote to become the director of OMB.


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