By Ramsey Cox
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced Monday that he would oppose Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“I’m going to oppose Ms. Burwell’s nomination until the American people get the same relief from ObamaCare as the Washington elite and their corporate allies,” Vitter said.
Vitter’s announcement was in response to a letter from his House colleagues, Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Vance McAllister (R-La.). The three Louisiana lawmakers wrote to Vitter and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) requesting that they block Burwell’s nomination to protest ObamaCare.
“What I find most infuriating about ObamaCare is that Congress worked behind closed doors to give themselves special treatment to avoid higher costs and lower quality care,” Vitter wrote to his House colleagues. “I join your efforts in calling for fairness for all under the law.”
Republicans have complained about the administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate requiring businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide healthcare to employees. They argue the individual mandate should also be delayed to give the public the same treatment as businesses. Individuals who don’t purchase healthcare will face a penalty on their taxes.
“The administration’s decision to give large businesses relief from the employer mandate while millions still face a penalty under the individual mandate is both unfair and drives a deeper wedge between the American people and those with powerful lobbyists and access to power,” Vitter wrote.
If confirmed, Burwell will replace Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the troubled rollout of the healthcare exchange website. Sebelius is expected to leave next month, meaning the Senate will consider Burwell's nomination soon.
Last week, Burwell breezed through a Senate panel hearing on her nomination. A committee vote on her nomination is expected later this month. Because of a change in rules, Burwell would only need a simple majority to be confirmed by the full Senate.