Senate Democrats upbeat about confirming Burwell
April 11th, 2014
02:27 PM ET
5 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy
    Remind them all of the rules change in the House by the Republicans just before the government shutdown.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You mean the one that said they didn't have to bring anything up for a vote unless the majority (of them) agreed to bring it up to a vote?
    That majority being the Republicans.
    That the one you mean?
    Nah. They're not going to see it the same way Rudy.
    But you know that already.

    April 11, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. truth hurts but reality bites

    The REAL Truth...
    And what has the do-nothing Party offered to adapt, correct, adjust or fix portions of ACA ??
    -–

    Now this is classic Democrats... they jam dog poop called Obamacare down the throats of the American people without a single Republican vote, and then demand to know what the Republicans are going to do about the mess they created!! Wake up America!!

    April 11, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @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.
    --------------–
    Hey if Cruz has no problem grand standing by shutting the whole government down, hijacking a hearing is nothing.

    April 11, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. CALIFORNIA

    They were about Sebelius also.

    Someone (Sebelius) that supports Partial Birth Abortion should never of been in that position to begin with. Talk about a conflict of interest but to democrats that's OK.

    April 11, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. CALIFORNIA

    I find it interesting how most democrats defend Obama's, Pelosi's and Sebelius' stance on Partial Birth Abortion. You democrats must REALLY HATE babies.

    April 11, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You mean the one where she gratuitously and without basis in fact managed to also call the President a mysoginist Tim?
    Oh it is going to take a whole lot more than crap to make her sound clever, and I'm willing to bet from the way she sounds that cute never made it inside that building.
    Cute left the building years and years ago.

    April 11, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
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