Senate Democrats upbeat about confirming Burwell
April 11th, 2014
02:27 PM ET
9 months ago

Senate Democrats upbeat about confirming Burwell

(CNN) – Senate Democrats are upbeat about the prospects for confirming Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the next Health and Human Services secretary, several Democratic aides told CNN on Friday.

While they recognize Republicans will use the confirmation process to highlight problems about the Obamacare rollout, Democrats believe they can close the chapter on the troubled tenure of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and open a new one with Burwell.

They consider Burwell to be a stellar nominee who was fully vetted when she was picked for her current job heading the Office of Management and Budget. They praise her performance at her last confirmation hearing and are buoyed that she sailed through the Senate 96-0.

They point to a tweet from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, a frequent critic of the Obama administration, in which he called Burwell an “excellent choice.”

In addition, Democrats know Republicans are virtually powerless to block Burwell if they wanted to because new filibuster rules allow Democrats to confirm her without any GOP votes.

Democrats also believe that because the White House reached its goal of 7 million-plus people signing up for health insurance, they will be better armed to counter GOP criticism of the law. The believe Republicans are vulnerable for not having viable alternatives to the law that they want to scrap.

Sebelius’s departure provides some relief to Democrats concerned she stayed in office too long, giving the appearance no one was held accountable for the roll out problems. While Democrats don’t relish rekindling the Obamacare debate during this election year, they believe Burwell could be confirmed by Memorial Day, allowing Democrats enough time before the election to return to their campaign themes focusing on middle class economic issues.

Senate Republicans are anxious to press Burwell on how she will address the problems they see with the law.

“You can expect a robust discussion, both at the hearing and on the floor, on Obamacare and its consequences,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“This is an opportunity to start a candid conversation about the shortcomings in the health law,” said another GOP aide.

Republican aides were reluctant to predict if any GOP senators would vote against Burwell. Most senators had left Washington before Burwell was nominated Friday.

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the confirmation process although the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will also call Burwell to testify. Decisions have not been made on when the hearings will take place, aides from both committees said.


Filed under: Healthcare • HHS • Kathleen Sebelius • Sylvia Mathews Burwell
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. truth hurts but reality bites

    Well, at least she sounds more competent than Sebelius was. Time will tell. Problem is she is still stuck with an albatross Obamacare law and a half baked web site that is costing close to a billion dollars. (unbelieveable!) She must be a masochist to jump into the Obamacare cesspool.

    April 11, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Truth hurts republicans – Fox News reported the cost was $634 million, and Newsmax reported it as $1 billion, so I presume you follow Newsmax. Let us know when that website amount passes the $24 billion wasted from the republican government shutdown, then you will have something to complain about.

    April 11, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. truth hurts but reality bites

    Tampa Tim
    Truth hurts republicans – Fox News reported the cost was $634 million, and Newsmax reported it as $1 billion, so I presume you follow Newsmax. Let us know when that website amount passes the $24 billion wasted from the republican government shutdown, then you will have something to complain about.
    --

    Just rounding up to the nearest billion because if they admit $634 million then you know it has to be at least double that, just like the cost of Obamacare. And if we include the billions wasted to market and sell what we were told people were literally dying to get, I am very confident the Demorcats will squander and waste AT LEAST $24 billion of our hard earned tax dollars.

    April 11, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    truth hurts but reality bites

    Tampa Tim
    Truth hurts republicans – Fox News reported the cost was $634 million, and Newsmax reported it as $1 billion, so I presume you follow Newsmax. Let us know when that website amount passes the $24 billion wasted from the republican government shutdown, then you will have something to complain about.
    -

    Just rounding up to the nearest billion because if they admit $634 million then you know it has to be at least double that, just like the cost of Obamacare. And if we include the billions wasted to market and sell what we were told people were literally dying to get, I am very confident the Demorcats will squander and waste AT LEAST $24 billion of our hard earned tax dollars.
    --------–
    And can someone explain why Obama's proposed budget calls for ANOTHER $600 Million for website "improvements"???

    April 11, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. salty dog

    Truth, I hardly qualified for subsidies, but whatever truth suits you, with a sense of truth like that its no wonder your reality bites!

    April 11, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Learn some history just spewing. The Republican Party of Lincoln is no more. The southern democrats that were against Civil Rights took over that party years ago. You can tell some people that bs and they'll eat it up but not us educated ones. Good lord, when are you going to learn to use proper grammar? The first letter of a sentence is always capitalized. Glad I don't read your comments that look like a 2nd grader write them.

    April 11, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. salty dog

    But the costs of the bush war is overestimated, you just can't see straight can you, I truly feel sorry for you, you seem to have little interest in the truth, yet you post under that very pretense, I think we found your problem. Until your able to judge on an equal keel, your never going to be happy about anything.

    April 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Fair – I read your post claiming Sebelius was fired, so I presume you latest post is more crap trying to make you cute and clever. The house does the budget, and Ryan is going to take the savings from keeping ACA, then repeal it, and apply that money to vouchers. There is no savings if republicans repeal ACA, only cost increases.Republican economics at its finest.

    April 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Truth hurts republicans – Now you are just making stuff up. Hannity would be proud. As for my hard earned tax dollars ( yes I work and pay a higher rate than Mittens) I do not want them to go to billionaires, big corporation, unnecessary wars, and bank bailouts. I prefer my tax dollars go to people in our country who are in need, veterans, seniors, students, uninsured, students, children, our infra structure.

    April 11, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. salty dog

    I mean, let's get real here, some of you go on and on about benghazi, like you really care, but are woefully silent when asked about the 50 that died under very similar circumstances, during the thirteen attacks under the last Republican administration. That speaks volumes, none of it good very poor character, your guilty of what your accusing others of, not really caring. I'm continually amazed at your inability to act maturely leaves you with zero credibility, sorry that the real truth your not willing to accept.

    April 11, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Well I live in Florida and my34 year old son just got a healthcare plan through obamahealthcare FOR 65.20 a month for a SILVER PLAN after NOT having any company healthcare befor that. That's a blue cross plan.while we have our CONVICTED FELON, govenor Scott DEPRIVING his own residents like most GOP governors declining medicade for hundreds of thousands of state taxpayers that don't make enough for regular insurance . This GOP CLOWN will be KICKED out of office in November, and this idiot STOLE most of his money from medicad!!!!!!

    April 11, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "because new filibuster rules allow Democrats to confirm her without any GOP votes."

    Wow..that's some carefully worded poke poke poke at the Teatrolls trying to get them angry, eh? Couldn't just say "new filibuster rules prevent a filibuster of cabinet nominees" or "new Senate rules allow confirmation of cabinet nominees with a simple majority vote"....no no...had to make it sound like "the Dems can shove this down the GOP/Teatrolls' throats." Lame. Clearly, they have McCain's and likely a couple others' votes already anyway, unless they just vote against her to create the appearance of it being entirely partisan and to save themselves from having to explain during their next re-election campaign why they voted for something, anything at all that Obama wanted.

    April 11, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Learn some history just spewing. The Republican Party of Lincoln is no more. The southern democrats that were against Civil Rights took over that party years ago. ..... .... ......
    ------------------------------------------–
    I get a good, gut ripple chuckle every time one of these IRS hating, paying taxes hating hypocrites brings up Lincoln. It's pretty obvious that they do not know that it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first to assess an income tax. Their "hero" started the U.S. tax system, which they seem to hate so much.

    April 11, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair asked:

    And can someone explain why Obama's proposed budget calls for ANOTHER $600 Million for website "improvements"???
    ----------------------–
    I speculated about the work not being done on the site last week. The site needs a LOT of work.

    It's called re-enrollment. It will likely take place come November, and the web site will need to be robust enough to handle the volume of traffic it saw over the past SIX months over the course of just ONE month. And, it will need to be able to handle a lot more volume as the total number of enrollments keeps growing and growing.

    April 11, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    They've had me laughing all day Rudy! How's the weather in NYC today?? It's like 62 here!!! And it and the hatred of the POTUS and AG have me flying high!!!!

    April 11, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – I read your post claiming Sebelius was fired, so I presume you latest post is more crap trying to make you cute and clever. The house does the budget, and Ryan is going to take the savings from keeping ACA, then repeal it, and apply that money to vouchers. There is no savings if republicans repeal ACA, only cost increases.Republican economics at its finest.
    -----–
    Tim... all I asked is WHY does Obama feel it necessary to request an additional $600 Million for website improvements in HIS proposed budget to congress?

    April 11, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Chris-E...al

    @tampa tim i figured you had become confused again and and went ballistic and somewhat postal and started a all out shoe assault yesterday .

    April 11, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tom l

    DMFO,

    Happy Friday! Let's get it on! :)
    What makes people's heads explode is not that it's two black men that are running the country but these two individuals and their policies. Let's be clear, there certainly are some whose heads explode due to the color of their skin, but not the majority of Americans. Can't we all just get along?? Do you think there has been progress in our country since 1964 or do you think its worse?
    ------------------------------------------------
    It is hard to say that it is these two men's policies that make people 's head explode tom l when they were plotting to make the POTUS a one-termer before he had even uttered his oath of office, you know? The Tea Party was out there protesting taxes and wanting their country back even though taxes were the lowest they'd been in decades.
    It's been a non-stop hate-fest for 6 years tom l.
    Have things changed since 1964? Of course.
    It took Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and more Whites to elect and re-elect this President. It warms my heart to think back on that.
    Are the Fair is Fairs, Donnas, and the Rick MCDaniels in the majority? Not even close.
    But they are loud, irrational with hate, and they love the partisanship more than they do their country.
    So long as THIS President is in office NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING he does will be good enough.
    They want their country back you see.
    Thankfully the majority of us have moved forward, and away from that type of stinking thinking.
    I agree with you on how the two political parties just want us at each other's throats, but I will also tell you that I've seen the Republicans completely neglect the voters that elected them so that they may protect the pockets of their benefactors.
    They've been doing this for the 6 years that I've been coming to this site. And by all evidence probably longer.
    That is wrong.
    In sum, despite the ever-present partisan nutjobs, and the racists that we will never completely rid ourselves from Iprogress has indeed been made since 1964.
    But it is precisely because progress has been made that we must remain ever vigilant and truthfully honest about those in power (and not in power) thinking that maybe that progress is now working against them and it is time to revert the clock......somehow, some way, any way.
    They really, really want their country back tom l.

    April 11, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "It's pretty obvious that they do not know that it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first to assess an income tax."

    A "progressive" or "graduated" one, no less.

    April 11, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit

    "because new filibuster rules allow Democrats to confirm her without any GOP votes."

    Wow..that's some carefully worded poke poke poke at the Teatrolls trying to get them angry, eh? Couldn't just say "new filibuster rules prevent a filibuster of cabinet nominees" or "new Senate rules allow confirmation of cabinet nominees with a simple majority vote"....no no...had to make it sound like "the Dems can shove this down the GOP/Teatrolls' throats."
    ----------------------–
    Remind them all of the rules change in the House by the Republicans just before the government shutdown.

    April 11, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    Well I live in Florida and my34 year old son just got a healthcare plan through obamahealthcare FOR 65.20 a month for a SILVER PLAN after NOT having any company healthcare befor that.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I've had the same experience with folks here at my office.
    .

    April 11, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    You know, its actually pathetic watching the GOPers grasping at anything they can, even taking outright lies by Newsmax and the Daily Caller as gospel to bolster their argument, Every day that they flail away at the ACA, the law grows stronger and stronger, because more people see the value in it. I guess those that are addicted to failure, like the Right has been over the last several years, can't kick the habit of lying and distorting their way, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they have been led down the wrong path, again.

    April 11, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    ""I think Burwell presents an ideal opportunity to examine the failures that are Obamacare...seeing the trainwreck that is Obamacare, in my view, it is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge this thing isn't working. We need to start over, repeal every word of it. Start over." – Ted Cruz, TODAY

    The issue at the confirmation hearings for Burwell isn't the ACA. The issue is whether she is qualified and competent enough for the position, which she inarguably is. So, like I said, enjoy the show while Cruz and a few others go McCarthy on her and turn the whole thing into a show-trial about the ACA and wind up looking like the s-xist jackholes they truly are.

    April 11, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    The Real Tom Paine

    You know, its actually pathetic watching the GOPers grasping at anything they can, even taking outright lies by Newsmax and the Daily Caller as gospel to bolster their argument, Every day that they flail away at the ACA, the law grows stronger and stronger, because more people see the value in it. I guess those that are addicted to failure, like the Right has been over the last several years, can't kick the habit of lying and distorting their way, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they have been led down the wrong path, again.
    ------------------------
    I think it is more like they are addicted to playing the victim card. If there's any sense beind 50+ failed votes to repeal the ACA, then playing the victim has got to be a reason. They want people to vote for them so that they can succeed at repealing the law.

    April 11, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. Tampa Tim

    Chris. – Don't you start thinking now, you'll hurt your little head.

    April 11, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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