McCain makes cameo appearance to praise Obama’s HHS nominee

 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE made a cameo appearance at a hearing on Thursday to heap praise on President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Arizona Republican showed up at the confirmation hearing for Sylvia Matthews Burwell even though he isn’t a member of the Senate panel that is vetting her nomination.

McCain stressed he is opposed to ObamaCare, which Burwell would take charge of if confirmed, but said she would bring the “competent leadership” that HHS needs.

McCain told the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee when he first heard Burwell was being nominated to replace HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusFormer health chiefs: Stabilizing ObamaCare markets benefits Republicans OPINION | 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health MORE, he advised his “friend” against taking the job.

He said the move would mean she would be leaving the toughest job in Washington as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the most thankless job as secretary of HHS.

“Who would recommend his friend take over as captain of the HHS Titanic after it hit the iceberg?” McCain asked.

McCain touted Burwell’s resume as OMB director, chief operating officer of the Gates Foundation, and president of Wal-Mart, and recommended that his colleagues visit Bentonville, Ark., where Wal-Mart was founded, to see what an American success story looks like.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-W.Va.) also made a special appearance to praise Burwell, who is a native of West Virginia.

By contrast, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWeek ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets Corker pressed as reelection challenges mount Overnight Health Care: CBO predicts 15 percent ObamaCare premium hike | Trump calls Sanders single-payer plan ‘curse on the US’ | Republican seeks score of Sanders’s bill MORE (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, spent most of his opening remarks railing against ObamaCare.

Alexander cited recent news reports citing the increased cost of healthcare and premiums due to ObamaCare and said he hoped the Senate would flip to the GOP this fall so that Republicans could point the healthcare system in the “right direction.”

“Ms. Burwell you have a reputation for competence, and I would suggest you are going to need it,” Alexander said.

While Democrats and most Republicans seemed prepared to approve Burwell’s nomination, Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonHouse sends resolution urging Trump to condemn white supremacists Senate approves resolution condemning white supremacist groups The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ga.) said he didn’t want to see Burwell leaving as director of the OMB until the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project had been funded.

Burwell said the project had not been funded in the last budget due to a lack of funds for the Army Corps of Engineers but was optimistic it would eventually get approved.