Since President Barack Obama nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health & Human Services secretary, Burwell has had an "unusually smooth" confirmation process, for several reasons, according to The Hill.
Last week, all but three members of the Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of Burwell's confirmation; her easy ride is due in part to filibuster reform, which makes her confirmation contingent on a simple majority vote, according to the article, but it also comes down to a few vital qualities:
Experience in the private sector. Burwell's experience managing private philanthropic endeavors like the Walmart Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives her credibility with Senate Republicans, according to the article. "She's qualified, and I think she's a very good worker," Sen.Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member on the Finance Committee, said Friday. "So I'm pleased that she's willing to do this."
She's skilled at outreach. After Burwell's nomination, she initiated an outreach campaign to hear Republicans' concerns about the Affordable Care Act, mindful of GOP complaints that they had been kept in the dark during the law's implementation process. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Burwell was "a great listener," which "too often we don't see as members of Congress in members of an administration," according to the article.
She has experience and expertise with budgets. Burwell brings to the table her experience as head of the Office of Management and Budget, as well as myriad finance-related roles in the Clinton administration, including staff director for the National Economic Council and chief of staff to then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Non-partisan credibility: Sebelius was widely seen as a "partisan operator," according to the article, but despite Burwell's defense of the Affordable Care Act and GOP-divergent stances on most healthcare issues, she "works hard to be seen as a practical manager rather than an ideologue," according to The Hill, and her emphasis on policy specifics promotes communication with critics of the administration.
To learn more:
- read the article