HHS Chief Burwell Confirmed with Strong GOP Support
Policy + Politics

HHS Chief Burwell Confirmed with Strong GOP Support

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Remember when Republican lawmakers were threatening to block Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s confirmation to lead the Health and Human Services Department?

Well, that didn’t happen on Thursday. Not even close.

The Senate confirmed Burwell, 48, the White House budget director, to replace outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on a bipartisan vote of 78 to 17.

“She’s somebody we can work with on trying to – if we can’t get rid of Obamacare, at least improve it,” Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) said on the floor of the Senate Thursday.

Burwell has plenty of friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle, so her eventual confirmation was expected, though plenty were bracing for pushback.

Related: Republicans Target Burwell in Obamacare War

During her confirmation hearings, Republican lawmakers grilled Burwell about the official Obamacare enrollment numbers. Tea Party darlings Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) even vowed to hold up her confirmation until they got answers. That didn’t pan out.

Burwell is now officially the new face of Obamacare – and as such, she’ll be navigating the sprawling HHS department through the next steps of the law’s implementation. She’s also in charge of the massive Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates nearly a quarter of all consumer spending, as well as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among a spate of other lesser-known agencies.

See the four challenges she faces in her new gig here.

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