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Senate Panel Advances HHS Nominee Burwell to Floor for Final Vote

Senate Panel Advances HHS Nominee Burwell to Floor for Final Vote

May 22, 2014 — The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday voted 21-3 to approve the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as HHS secretary, clearing the way for a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor, Reuters reports (Morgan, Reuters, 5/21).

All but three Republicans on the 24-member panel voted in support of Burwell's nomination (Levey, "Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21). The three lawmakers who voted against her confirmation were Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and John Thune (S.D.) (Howell, Washington Times, 5/21).

According to Reuters, it is not clear when the full Senate will vote on her confirmation. Democrats previously aimed to hold the vote before the Memorial Day recess. However, aides recently said the vote could be in early June.

Confirmation Expected

Burwell is expected to see a "smooth confirmation" in the full Senate, after advancing through two "cordial" committee confirmation hearings, Reuters reports (Reuters, 5/21).

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he will "very much support" her confirmation (Haberkorn, Politico, 5/21). Similarly, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Burwell is "competent" and expressed his support for her nomination (Washington Times, 5/21).

Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he will vote against Burwell in protest of the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) individual mandate, while Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee's (R-Utah) recent questioning of Burwell over the law suggest they might also vote against her nomination (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 5/21).