Week ahead: Senate poised to move on Burwell nomination

 

The Senate is expected to consider the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week.

Though lawmakers would not confirm the schedule, the Senate Finance Committee is widely expected to move forward with the nominating process by holding a vote on Burwell.

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The next step would be a vote on the floor, where Democrats have enough support for Burwell to confirm her to the top post at the HHS.

The final vote would likely not take place before mid-week, giving some Republican lawmakers a chance to voice concerns.

Burwell has been widely commended by Republicans and sailed through two confirmation hearings unscathed. But in a sign of possible opposition to come, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent her a letter Friday with a barrage of questions about the healthcare law.

“Your nomination to such a highly active agency necessitates due diligence to ensure your ability and dedication to leading HHS in a transparent and forthright manner,” the senators wrote.

Burwell currently serves as director of the White House budget office, a position she assumed with unanimous support in the Senate.

The same may not be true for her move to the HHS, as Republicans weigh using the vote to telegraph their opposition to ObamaCare.

Lawmakers will attend a variety of healthcare hearings in the rest of the week, including several focused on Medicare.

The House Oversight subcommittee on Healthcare will look at Medicare’s efforts to recapture misused funds in a hearing Tuesday.

On the same day, the committee’s subpanel on Government Operations will examine the federal response to autism and related disorders.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing Tuesday on drug innovation as part of its initiative to cure disease. 

The same subcommittee will reconvene on Wednesday for a hearing on reforming Medicare payments that vary based on care location.

The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Health will look at several specific Medicare policies on Tuesday, including the “two midnights” rule.

On the Senate side, lawmakers will look at ways to strengthen Social Security at a Wednesday hearing of the Finance subcommittee on Social Security.

The Special Committee on Aging will also meet Wednesday to discuss how healthcare providers participate in advance care planning.

Off Capitol Hill, The Hill will hold a breakfast event on sunscreen innovation and skin cancer prevention on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, The Atlantic will hold its Future of Medicine event.