McCain makes cameo appearance to praise Obama’s HHS nominee

 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

McCain told the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee when he first heard Burwell was being nominated to replace HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mike Roman says 3M on track to deliver 2 billion respirators globally and 1 billion in US by end of year; US, Pfizer agree to 100M doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will be free to Americans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former HHS Secretary Sebelius gives Trump administration a D in handling pandemic; Oxford, AstraZeneca report positive dual immunity results from early vaccine trial Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Kathleen Sebelius 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) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE (D-W.Va.) also made a special appearance to praise Burwell, who is a native of West Virginia.

ADVERTISEMENT

By contrast, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal 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 IsaksonJohnny IsaksonSabato's Crystal Ball shifts Iowa Senate race to 'toss-up,' Georgia toward GOP WNBA players wear 'Vote Warnock' shirts in support of Loeffler Democratic challenger Trump and Biden tied in Georgia: poll 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.