Practice Economics

Budget chief Burwell tapped for HHS


Sylvia Mathews Burwell, best known in Washington for managing last fall’s government shutdown, has been tapped to head the Department of Health & Human Services.

On April 11, President Obama announced that Kathleen Sebelius has resigned after 5 years as HHS secretary. The president will nominate Ms. Burwell, the current director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to replace Ms. Sebelius.

Wikimedia Commons/SenRockefeller/Creative Commons

Sylvia Burwell during her confirmation hearing for OMB director in April 2013.

Ms. Burwell faces confirmation by the Senate, but new rules mean that she will need only a majority of senators to vote in her favor.

Ms. Burwell, a Rhodes Scholar from Hinton, W.Va., was confirmed unanimously by the Senate last year to head the OMB. Before coming to the White House, she served as president of the Walmart Foundation and as president of the global development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During the Clinton administration, Ms. Burwell worked as deputy director of OMB, as well as in other roles at the White House.

President Obama praised Ms. Burwell as "experienced" and "competent" and said she will bring common sense to the HHS job. "She knows how to deliver results," he said.

President Obama also commended the work done by Ms. Sebelius, saying that she turned around the struggling website and helped to get 7.5 million Americans signed up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period.

"The final score speaks for itself," he said.

Ms. Sebelius will remain at the HHS helm until her successor is confirmed.

On Twitter @maryellenny

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