It doesn’t look like Sylvia Mathews Burwell will win unanimous Senate confirmation the second time around.
President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services faces tough questions about Obamacare in advance of her Senate confirmation vote. She also will have at least one senator voting against her.
Last week, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Burwell to respond to 15 questions about the Affordable Care Act. Now, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is vowing to oppose her nomination because of the president’s health care law.
Burwell, currently director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, won Senate confirmation 96-0 in April 2013.
Vitter voted for her last time. He said the same won’t happen now.
At issue is the Obama administration’s decision to delay the law’s employer mandate for businesses while moving forward with the individual mandate on individuals. Vitter said it is an example of how powerful lobbyists shape the administration’s decisions:
“What I find even more hypocritical is that Congress worked behind closed doors to give [itself] special treatment under Obamacare to avoid higher costs and lower quality care,” Vitter said. “I will oppose Ms. Burwell’s nomination until the American people get the same relief from Obamacare as the Washington elite and their corporate allies.”
Vitter’s letter also notes other problems that have surfaced as a result of the law – including “skyrocketing premiums, higher out-of-pocket costs as a result of lower quality health plans being offered on the federal exchange, and limited access to their doctors.”
The announcement came in response to a letter from Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Of the 4.7 million Americans who had their health insurance canceled as a result of Obamacare, at least 92,000 are Louisianans, Vitter said.
Vitter also cited the decision by Congress to keep a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy for lawmakers and staff that enabled them to avoid higher costs and keep their doctors. Robert Moffit, a health policy expert at The Heritage Foundation, called this “blatant unfairness” and noted Vitter’s efforts to “ensure that members of Congress and staffers enrolling in the exchanges are treated like all other Americans.”