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McCain makes cameo appearance to praise Obama’s HHS nominee

 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes 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 SebeliusTrump administration's reforms could make welfare work again Pro-dependency advocates miss the mark in attacking Kansas welfare reform Pence breaks tie to confirm Trump's pick for religious ambassador 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) ManchinDemocrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Trump eyes Cold War statute to keep coal burning: 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 AlexanderMaternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny Supreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes Senators press administration on mental health parity 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 IsaksonNow is the time to modernize the OTC monograph system Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan The Hill's Morning Report: Haley clashes with White House 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.