President Barack Obama said Friday he assumes the Senate will easily confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services — and he's almost certainly right.
But that doesn't mean Republicans aren't relishing the idea of re-litigating the health care law once again under the bright lights of a nomination hearing.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, promised a "fair and thorough vetting process" and already signaled the Affordable Care Act will be his target, calling it "an unmitigated disaster." “This deeply flawed law has hurt millions of hard-working American families, job creators, and seniors in the form of rising premiums, higher taxes and fewer choices," he said. "Ms. Burwell has been nominated to one of the most challenging roles in our government and must outline how she will right the wrongs of this misguided law."
Burwell's gold-plated resume helped her win a 96-0 vote as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and while the controversy surrounding the health law could cost her some Republicans votes, Sen. John McCain of Arizona has already signaled his support and more are likely to follow.
"I hope that the Senate confirms Sylvia without delay. She's going to do great. Last time, she was confirmed unanimously. I'm assuming not that much has changed since that time," Obama quipped in the Rose Garden.
Burwell, for her part, doesn't actually need Republican votes, of course, given the "nuclear option" deployed by the Democrats last year to prevent a minority from blocking nominations.