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BREAKING: Burwell Confirmed as HHS Secretary

June 5, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been confirmed as the top health official in the country by the Senate.

Burwell was confirmed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by the Senate with a vote of 78-17. She succeeds Kathleen Sebelius, who was on President Barack Obama’s cabinet since his first year in office and resigned in April of this year.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 67-28 on a procedural move to advance the vote on her nomination, which could have been held up due to a filibuster. Even though every vote against her was from a Republican, Burwell received bipartisan support throughout the nomination process due to her work at the Office of Management and Budget.

In comments leading up to the confirmation vote, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed his support for Burwell. He said while he had some concerns with the way HHS has been running since Obama had come into office, he said Burwell promised him more transparency as head of the agency.

“We need a strong leader with bipartisan support,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said of Burwell. “I’ve gotten to know Sylvia Matthews Burwell well. She is the right choice for the right time. I strongly urge my colleague on both sides in supporting her nomination.”

It wasn’t all positive though. Some Senators, such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY), voted against her for embracing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) policy.

Burwell, who is a Rhodes Scholar, got her career in politics started with President Bill Clinton. She worked on his campaign, was a part of his economic transition team, worked on the staff of Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury, and later served as a Deputy Chief of Staff. After President Clinton left office, she went to the nonprofit world to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. In 2013, she was confirmed to head the Office of Management and Budget by a vote of 96-0.

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