HHS nominee Burwell gets Senate hot seat
May 8, 2014 in Medical Technology
Despite HHS Secretary nominee Sylvia M. Burwell getting asked some hard-line questions from several Republican lawmakers at a Senate committee hearing Wednesday morning, she did appear to receive an overwhelming bipartisan support.
Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., offered nothing but “highest praise for her work” as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, the role which Burwell currently holds.
McCain admitted he recommended Burwell turn down the HHS nomination due to the position being among the “most thankless jobs” in Washington. “Who would recommend their friend take over as captain of Titanic after it hit the iceberg,” he joked. Despite this, McCain extended his full support of her nomination. “Regardless of my objections to the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services needs competent leadership in the position of secretary…I believe Ms. Burwell has the qualifications,” he added.
Burwell, originally from small-town Hinton, W.V., has previously served as president of the Walmart Foundation, where she helped bring in $1.3 billion in charitable donations. Prior to this post, she served as head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.
She received her Bachelor’s Degree in government from Harvard in 1987 and degree from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
“She’s grounded,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., describing Burwell and her upbringing in rural West Virginia. “We’re here to get the most responsible, the most talented person who can lead us,” he said at the hearing. And Burwell is the individual “who can get that train in the right direction.”
Despite the lighter mood at the onset of the hearing, there were tough questions for the nominee.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for example interrogated Burwell regarding whether or not she would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans they had if she were officially nominated.
Burwell skirted the direction with an indirect response, so Alexander interrupted. “Is that a no or a yes?”