Burwell to Go Before Senators for Confirmation Hearings
Following the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, President Barack Obama nominated Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell for the spot. She has already faced the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee this week and will go before the Senate Finance Committee next week. Burwell has worked for the Federal Government and in the private sector in a number of capacities. For instance, she worked for the National Economic Council while the Clinton Administration was facing its own healthcare reform initiative. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Gates Foundation. However, some have pointed out that “she has never been immersed in health care”, according to Politico. Burwell “lacks experience” in healthcare policy, says Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Although the confirmation will be an opportunity for Republicans to reiterate their grievances against Obamacare, some have recognized Burwell’s abilities. According to the Associated Press, Senator John McCain of Arizona had “effusive praise” for her. The Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee also acknowledged her strengths.
House Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her former IRS division’s decision to inappropriately scrutinize conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Lerner maintains that she is protected by her constitutional right against self-incrimination, but Republicans contend that she waived that right when she made an opening statement. The contempt resolution passed by a vote of 231-187. Six Democrats, all from swing districts, voted for the resolution, and no Republican sided with the opposition. In addition to the contempt resolution, the House also voted on one requesting the Justice Department to name a special prosecutor to examine whether Lerner should face criminal charges for the scandal. This passed by a margin of 250-168, with even more Democrats joining than the contempt resolution. It is unlikely that the Justice Department will cooperate with the House resolutions.
And for our latest post: Using the “Pen and Phone” to Blur the Separation of Powers