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.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."