With Republicans garnering enough support to block Don Berwick's Senate confirmation as CMS's leader last week, and Democratic power players privately admitting defeat, President Obama may cave to party pressure and hand the position to his 2nd-in-command, Marilyn Tavenner, The New York Times reports.
The first shot across the bow was a letter signed by 42 Republican senators; a number large enough to block confirmation--which requires 60 "yes" votes. Berwick was a recess appointment last July, and still needs Senate approval.
No clear word yet, though, on whether the White House will back its nominee. The Hill quotes Berwick as saying the administration is backing him "sufficiently" so far. No confirmation hearings have yet been scheduled for Berwick.
At this point, Berwick is widely seen as a political punching bag for health care reform, the Times says. Consider that Democrats are urging Obama to rescind Berwick's appointment. If the nomination is vacated, Berwick would have to leave office by year's end.