Eight Republicans lent their support Wednesday to the confirmation of a new Health and Human Services secretary, steering clear of another fight over Obamacare.
The Senate Finance Committee voted 21-3 to send Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to the full Senate, which will likely hold a final confirmation vote after the Memorial Day recess. The committee’s Republican members split 8-3 on the nomination, with Sens. Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, and John Thune voting no.
“I think we have a chance of having a really great administrator in this area “¦ and I very much support her,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, the committee’s top Republican.
Republicans clearly aren’t prepared to hand Burwell — or President Obama — a repeat of her unanimous confirmation as White House budget director. But with the majority of Finance Committee Republicans on board, Burwell is poised to take the helm at HHS with bipartisan backing and few delays. Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn, who don’t serve on the committee, have also announced their support for her nomination.
Some conservatives, led by Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, have tried to slow down the bipartisan love train around Burwell, and outside advocacy groups are pressing for a bigger Obamacare fight once her nomination reaches the Senate floor.
But so far, party leaders have avoided turning Burwell’s nomination into another Obamacare fight. The questioning at her two confirmation hearings was cordial, and even Lee and Cruz have kept their complaints modest. They’ve insisted that Burwell answer more questions about the health care law before the Senate ends debate over her nomination, but thanks to a recent change in the chamber’s rules, conservatives have little leverage to delay or block a final vote.
What We're Following See More »
An estimated $15.6 billion, "according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report."
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) “is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and … the Justice Department” for potentially improper contributions to his 2013 campaign, including while he was a Clinton Global Initiative board member. ... Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from” former Chinese legislator Wang Wenliang. “U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to … elections. … But Wang holds U.S. permanent resident status.”
"Donald Trump is reviving some of the ugliest political chapters of the 1990s with escalating personal attacks on Bill Clinton's character, part of a concerted effort to smother Hillary Clinton 's campaign message with the weight of decades of controversy. Trump's latest shot came Monday when he released an incendiary Instagram video that includes the voices of two women who accused the former president of sexual assault, underscoring the presumptive Republican nominee's willingness to go far beyond political norms in his critique of his likely Democratic rival. ...In one recent interview, Trump said another topic of potential concern is the suicide of former White House aide Vincent Foster, which remains the focus of intense and far-fetched conspiracy theories on the Internet."
"The head of security for the Transportation Security Administration, Kelly Hoggan, has been removed from his position after a hearing about the agency's management, the House Oversight Committee says." Deputy assistant administrator Darby LaJoye will take over for Hoggan on a temporary basis.
"Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has appointed a veteran legal insider with strong personal ties to the Obama administration to serve as his special adviser focused exclusively on fixing the Washington region’s troubled Metro system. Kathryn Thomson, who was expected to leave her job as the Department of Transportation’s top lawyer, instead will stay on as Foxx’s special adviser on Metro oversight." She'll start this week.