Obamacare is about to have a new ringleader, and she has both parties’ approval.
In a procedural vote Wednesday afternoon, the Senate voted 67-28 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to head the Department of Health and Human Services — all but securing her confirmation. The Senate is likely to hold a final vote Thursday, and Burwell is expected to be easily confirmed.
Assuming she is approved, she will be the first major appointee to be confirmed since the Senate invoked the “nuclear option,” requiring only 51 votes for approval, instead of 60.
Burwell will replace outgoing Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation in April, following the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov. Republicans had been calling for her departure for months, but Sebelius remained in the post through the end of the health care law’s first open-enrollment period, now leaving behind a much-improved enrollment system and a tally of more than 8 million sign-ups — exceeding the administration’s goal.
Yet Burwell is set to inherit a post that carries a great deal of baggage, and she will be in charge of implementing a law that is still mired in political upheaval and public disapproval. Democrats and Republicans alike have cited her leadership abilities and strong management style as evidence that she is up to the task.
The presumed next HHS chief has commanded the respect of both parties since before her nomination: Burwell was approved for her current OMB post on a 96-0 vote. Before today’s full Senate vote, she sailed through two confirmation hearings, in front of the Senate Finance and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees.
Burwell’s nomination is now subject to up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate before the final vote.
What We're Following See More »
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."