Senate ready to confirm Health secretary

The Senate voted 67-28 on Wednesday to advance the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More than 10 Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to end debate on her nomination. 

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The Senate will spend the rest of the day debating her merits. Final confirmation is expected Thursday.

There was no doubt that the Senate would vote to proceed to a final vote on Burwell. Only a majority of 51 votes were needed on the procedural motion, since Senate Democrats changed filibuster rules last year to prevent filibusters on most presidential nominations.

But Burwell has also proven to be a popular nominee.

The Senate Finance Committee cleared her nomination in a 21-3 vote last month, with only Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.) voting against her.

Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he believes Burwell would help Congress make bipartisan improvements to the healthcare law.

“She is a leader with a head and a heart,” Wyden said ahead of the vote. “We can come together to make the law work better.”

Some Republicans, such as Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), said they'd oppose her nomination as a protest against ObamaCare, which she will be responsible for managing once she takes the place of outgoing Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Burwell was unanimously confirmed for her current position as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The Senate also confirmed a nominee to the Department of Commerce and three judicial nominees. Their names, positions and vote tallies follow:

- Mark Mastroianni was confirmed to be a U.S. district judge for Massachusetts on a 92-2 vote. 

- Bruce Hendricks was confirmed to be a U.S. circuit judge for South Carolina on a 95-0 vote.

- Tanya Chutkan was confirmed to be a U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia on a 95-0 vote.

- Stefan Selig was confirmed by voice-vote to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.