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Senate Committee Warms to HHS Nominee Burwell

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 9, 2014

Civil tone notwithstanding, several Republican senators say they will demand more transparency about the successes and failures of Obamacare from Sylvia Mathews Burwell than from her predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius.


sebelius

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Director, OMB

Photo: Varnent

Thursday's U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell had all the makings for a donnybrook.

Instead, it was more like a love fest as several Republicans joined every Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in voicing support for President Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

The two-hour hearing came as Republicans and Democrats fight to establish their campaign narratives on the success or failure of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act in the months before November's mid-term elections.

And while Republicans on the 22-member committee frequently criticized the PPACA, President Obama, and departing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, they lobbed no direct shots at Burwell, who is well known to members of Congress through her most recent work as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"Many of in this room… disagree about the merits of Obamacare and what the path forward should be to reform our healthcare system," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), told the committee during his introduction of Burwell. "I know of no one who does not have but the highest praise for her work as director of OMB [which makes] her well qualified to be secretary of HHS."

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