The Senate confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Thursday as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services by a bipartisan vote of 78-17.
Burwell, the outgoing director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, was President Barack Obama’s top choice to succeed the embattled Kathleen Sebelius, who announced plans to step down as secretary in April.
Sebelius, who’d served since the beginning of the administration, oversaw the shaky rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which has been a constant source of congressional bickering and a persistent drag on the president’s approval ratings.
Burwell takes over as the agency tries to implement the health care law amid strong political opposition and the ongoing ripple effects of the botched debut last fall of the federal insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
An overwhelming favorite for confirmation since she was tabbed for the position, Burwell, a native of Hinton, W.Va., had strong support from both sides of the aisle: 52 Democrats, two independents and 24 Republicans. Among the Republicans who opposed her were Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
Obama applauded the bipartisan majority that confirmed her.
“Sylvia is a proven manager who knows how to deliver results, and over her career she has built deep relationships with Democrats and Republicans alike,” the president said in a statement. “I’m confident Sylvia’s unparalleled experience will serve her well in her new role as she works to ensure the safety of our food and drug supply, protect our nation from outbreaks or bio-terror attacks, keep America at the forefront of medical research and make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.”
Source: Miami Herald | TONY PUGH