Morning Action: Senate Set to Confirm Burwell as New HHS Secretary

BURWELL.  Today the Senate will vote to confirm Sylvia Matthews Burwell to lead HHS (sub. req’d):

This afternoon the Senate is set to confirm the woman who will now be held responsible for fixing problems with the controversial federal health care exchange.

Although many Senate Republicans have criticized the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) during debate of the nomination, few have opposed her as a candidate for confirmation.

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 28% reminded senators this week that high expectations have been placed on Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is just hours away from expected confirmation to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Several Senate Republicans think it will be easier to work with Burwell than it was with Kathleen Sebelius (sub. req’d):

But even if they prefer Burwell to departing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, her task of continuing to implement the 2010 law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) means that the relationship between Congress and the department will remain strained. Republicans continue to mistrust the way the administration is handling the overhaul’s implementation, most recently with critical floor speeches and a new bill that would put a special inspector general in place to monitor the law.

As Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) 47% put it, “the bad policies will be the same; the person that is directing the department will be more capable.” Blunt said his view is that the differences on the health care law will make it difficult for everyone to work together on that issue.

EX-IM BANK.  The Export-Import Bank will be among the organizations hosting forums at the Obama Administration’s “Made in Rural America” forum:

“By empowering rural businesses to look beyond America’s borders and sell their goods overseas, the Export-Import Bank is helping to strengthen rural communities and create and sustain jobs here in the United States,” said Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg. “The Made in Rural America export forums will help more rural businesses and workers learn about and take advantage of the tools the Export-Import Bank has to offer.”

As Dan Holler explains, the Ex-Im Bank does not create jobs.

HIGHWAY.  Senators are still discussing options for a highway-fund bailout, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 12% said he is working with members of the tax-writing panel to come up with a plan by the end of June (sub. req’d):

The Oregon Democrat, in a brief statement, said he and committee members met Wednesday to discuss ways both to fix a short-term cash crunch as the highway account runs low this summer and  address long-term revenue needs for the fund that covers road and transit spending. “We’re pulling out all the stops,” he said.

The chairman said he asked members to come back early next week with revenue ideas so the panel can complete a bipartisan financing plan by the end of this month.

That schedule would mean the Finance panel would offer its plan before Congress takes a weeklong recess around the July Fourth holiday.

The timing would provide reassurance to states that Congress could complete action before a late-July deadline as the fund’s cash balance shrinks. 



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