Obama budget nominee receives praise from Senate GOP at hearing

Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellPrice was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue Overnight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill ObamaCare enrollment hits 11.5M for 2017 MORE, President Obama’s nominee to be his next budget director, faced little resistance from Senate Republicans during the first of her two confirmation hearings Tuesday.

The GOP has been lambasting Obama this week as he delivers a budget on Wednesday that will not balance, two months late. But Republicans on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee signaled that the nominee, a former Clinton administration official and head of the Wal-Mart Foundation, likely faces an easy confirmation.

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“There is no question that you are highly qualified,” ranking member Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnMr. President, let markets help save Medicare Pension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism MORE (R-Okla.) said.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Ariz.), who has made wasteful spending a signature issue, praised Burwell as an “incredibly well-qualified nominee.”

“There must be some character flaw that she wants the job,” he quipped. “This is an excellent choice.”

“I believe you will be the next budget director,” added Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones Portman13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Lawmakers, businesses await guidance on tax law Harvard biz school honors Wilbur Ross MORE (R-Ohio).

Burwell could face tougher grilling at the Senate Budget Committee, where Republicans are led by the fiery Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMadeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration New Hampshire GOP gov: I won’t send National Guard troops to ‘separate families’ Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council MORE (R-Ala.), on Wednesday, but as it stands, she appears to have the 60 votes needed to overcome any potential filibuster on the floor.

How long the honeymoon lasts remains to be seen.

Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewOvernight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint Obama-era Treasury secretary: Tax law will make bipartisan deficit-reduction talks harder GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system MORE, now the secretary of the treasury, was praised when he became Obama’s budget director based on his history of balancing budgets in the Clinton administration.

By the end of his tenure at the budget office, Lew was on the receiving end of harsh rhetoric by Republicans who built their 2012 campaigns on the idea that Obama is fiscally irresponsible.

Burwell, who was a deputy budget director for Clinton, said she hopes to build a solid dialogue with the GOP based on the quiet meetings she has already had.

“There is no question the road will be difficult … I am confident we can come together on a comprehensive plan,” she said.