“We have not had a confirmed administrator since 2006,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said ahead of the vote. “It will be a good thing for the mission and the country to confirm an administrator.”
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Crapo (Idaho), James Risch (Idaho), Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul (Ky.) voted against Tavenner's nominations.
CMS administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs and is also charged with implementing most of Obama's healthcare law. Tavenner has been leading CMS on an acting basis.
Kaine said Tavenner, who is from Virginia, was the right pick because she would bring a patient-focused “nurse’s attitude” to CMS and she is an “expert” on finding healthcare cost savings.
Before the vote on Tavenner, the Senate also voted to approve the nomination of William Orrick to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California. He was confirmed on a 56-41 vote.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she was glad Orrick got a vote because the Northern District of California has a judicial emergency with a caseload 24 percent higher than the national average.
“We all know justice delayed is justice denied,” Boxer said. “That’s why I’m excited we’re finally getting a vote on this nominee.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he opposed Orrick's nomination because he didn't like a judicial decision he made that maintained the “weak status quo” of immigration and border enforcement. He added that Orrick didn't answer all of his questions during his confirmation hearing with the Judiciary Committee, where Grassley serves as the ranking member.