By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 05/21/14 02:50 PM EDT
The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday voted 21-3 to approve Sylvia Burwell as the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.
The overwhelming show of support sends Burwell’s nomination to the full Senate, where it could be voted on soon.
Once confirmed by the full Senate, Burwell will take the place of outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is stepping aside after coming under heavy criticism for her leadership during the botched rollout of ObamaCare.
Burwell’s nomination met little resistance in the Senate; members of both parties touted her leadership skills and her work as director of the budget office.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) emerged as one of Burwell’s strongest advocates, calling her his “friend.”
Republicans used Burwell’s confirmation hearings to pile criticism on ObamaCare, and pressed her to be responsive to their inquiries as they seek to oversee the law.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has vowed to vote against Burwell’s nomination unless the Obama administration delays ObamaCare’s mandate that individuals carry health insurance.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have written to Burwell to grill her further on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and could vote against her nomination as well.