Senate Confirms Burwell to Head HHS

The Senate voted 78-17 to confirm Sylvia Burwell’s nomination for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services. Over 20 Republican Senators joined the Democratic majority in voting for her, but her support of Obamacare was problematic for their colleagues. For instance, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, in a letter posted on his website, explained that he would “oppose Ms. Burwell’s nomination until the American people get the same relief from Obamacare as the Washington elite and their corporate allies.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also issued a press release explaining his opposition: “By most accounts, Sylvia Burwell is a smart and skilled public servant. But her embrace of Obamacare calls her policy judgment into question.” He added, “So, in my view, the Senate shouldn’t be focusing on a new captain for the Titanic. It should focus on steering away from the iceberg… I’ll be voting against the nominee, because I think we need to focus on repealing and replacing this law, not trying to do the impossible by pretending we can make it work.”

The Hill: Burwell Era Starts for Obamacare

Senator Mitch McConnell: McConnell to Oppose Nomination of Sylvia Burwell as HHS Secretary

Senator David Vitter: Vitter to Oppose HHS Nominee Burwell

Republicans Go to Party Convention for Iowa House Nomination

None of the six candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa’s 3rd District on Tuesday secured the required 35 percent of the vote to win outright, so a June 21 nominating convention will be convened to settle on a Republican candidate for the general election. At the convention, a candidate needs to receive more than 50 percent of the vote from the estimated 500 delegates to win. It will likely take multiple rounds of voting with the candidate earning the least votes being eliminated from contention.  The nominee will then face state Senator Staci Appel in the general election to fill the seat of retiring GOP Representative Tom Latham.

The Iowa 3rd District will be one of the most competitive House races in 2014. President Barack Obama won the district by a 4-point margin in 2012, but the district has shown growing support for the Republican Party. The general election will be a focus for both parties in November. As one of the candidates said during a debate, “This is one of 17 seats Democrats have targeted to put the speaker’s gavel back in Nancy Pelosi’s hands.”

Of the six candidates, it is speculated that all but one have a real chance of winning the nomination. State Senator Brad Zaun finished first in the primary with 25 percent of the vote, but due to some controversy as well as his poor 2010 campaign against Representative Leornard Boswell he may not have the best chances against Senator Appel in the general. Robert Cramer, a bridge construction contractor and Christian activist, secured 21 percent of the vote in the primary. The other candidates include Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz who garnered 20 percent of the vote, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Monte Shaw who earned 17 percent, and David Young, a former chief of staff to Senator Charles Grassley who received 16 percent of the vote.

National Journal: Iowa GOP House Race Heads to Unpredictable Convention

The Des Moines Register: Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District GOP Race Heads to Convention

Roll Call: GOP Plots Convention Strategies in Iowa

And for our latest post: Using the “Pen and Phone” to Blur the Separation of Powers

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