Debut Hearing for HHS Nominee Suggests Smooth Path to Confirmation

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who serves on both the Health and the Finance committees, said he also will support the nominee. No one has announced opposition.

Burwell, who was confirmed 97-0 when her nomination as budget director came before the Senate last year, promised to strengthen relationships “to make progress on the wide variety of issues at the department that transcend parties, and will ultimately transcend our generation.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the committee chairman, said Burwell “has proven herself as an effective and dynamic manager with experience and skill in leading a wide range of organizations.”

In one exchange, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) asked Burwell if the Affordable Care Act was a stalking horse to convert American healthcare to a single-payer system. Burwell responded by saying Obamacare remains at its heart a private market-based health insurance system.

"I look forward to, if confirmed, making that system work as efficiently and effectively as possible, both in terms of cost and access,” she said.

Burwell, a West Virginia native, served as deputy chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton before moving on to serve as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Development Program and, later, the Wal-Mart Foundation. She returned to the White House to lead the OMB.