Senate confirms Burwell to head OMB

The Senate voted 96-0 to confirm the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The vote Wednesday means that Burwell will officially replace Jacob Lew, who resigned from the OMB post to serve as Secretary of the Treasury earlier this year.

President Obama hailed the unanimous confirmation vote and said Burwell will be instrumental in turning off the spending cuts from sequestration that have been blamed this week for long delays at airports. 

"Sylvia has spent a career fighting for working families, and she was part of an OMB team that presided over three budget surpluses in a row. Her experience will be especially important as we continue our efforts to replace the indiscriminate budget cuts that are already starting to cost jobs, hurt families, and inconvenience Americans," Obama said.

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Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Burwell’s nomination comes at a critical time for the nation’s economy.

“[Burwell] knows budgets are a reflection of our values and priorities,” Murray said ahead of the vote Wednesday. “She knows that working to find common ground is key to solving our country's economic challenges.”

The Budget Committee cleared Burwell’s nomination with unanimous support this month.

Prior to her nomination, Burwell served as president of the Walmart Foundation and before that was president of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She also worked as deputy White House budget director during the Clinton administration.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he supported Burwell’s nomination not just because she was from his home state, but because she embodies what’s great about America.

“She’s spent most of her life trying to help American families achieve the American dream,” Manchin said.

The Senate also confirmed the judicial nomination of Jane Kelly to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. She was confirmed on an 96-0 vote Wednesday afternoon.

“She is well regarded in my home state of Iowa,” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said. “So I’m pleased to support the nomination of Ms. Kelly.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Kelly has the qualifications necessary to perform the duties of an appellate court judge because she has a “deep sense of compassion and fairness.”

—Updated at 1:48 p.m.