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Sebelius Leaving HHS, Burwell to Be Nominated

Apr 11, 2014

Yesterday, it was announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be leaving her post. This morning, President Obama nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as her replacement.

Ms. Sebelius assumed her role as secretary in 2009 and has since overseen the administration's rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In recent months, she faced criticism regarding the flawed healthcare.gov website. Her departure follows the recent announcement by the White House that nearly 7.5 million Americans have signed up for health coverage as part of the open enrollment period provided for by the ACA. The former governor of Kansas has not given any indication of what her future plans might be.

Ms. Burwell was confirmed as director of the OMB back in April 2013 by a vote of 96 to 0. Prior to assuming her current position, she served as president of the Wal-Mart Foundation. Before that, she was president of global development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also worked in the Clinton administration. Her nomination has received early positive reactions from members on both sides of the aisle. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, said that Burwell "is an excellent choice to be the next HHS secretary." Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also offered praise for the nominee, saying she "will ensure that we enact commonsense fixes to the Affordable Care Act to help improve the lives of millions of Americans."

Due to recent changes in Senate rules, Ms. Burwell will only need a simple majority for confirmation. Hearings on her nomination have not yet been scheduled.