Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday had five pieces of advice for Sylvia Burwell, who is likely to be confirmed by the Senate in the coming days to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 67-28 in favor of advancing Burwell’s nomination, and she’s expected to be approved on Thursday with some Republican support. Burwell is the current director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and won an easy confirmation vote to that position.
But with Republicans still fuming over Obamacare, many are looking to use the vote as a chance to win concessions about how the law will be implemented, and how HHS works with Congress. Alexander had a few suggestions:
1) End the secrecy
“Last year, the NSA could’ve learned something from Secretary Sebelius, because getting information about the Obamacare exchanges was next to impossible for members of Congress,” he said on the Senate floor.
“We should not have to rely on anonymous news sources.”
2) Work with Congress
“This administration has made at least 22 unilateral changes in the new healthcare law, many of which should have been made by Congress,” he said. “At this rate, the president may be invited to speak in the Republican convention for having done the most to change his own healthcare law.
“Our founders did not want a king. Some presidents have perhaps stepped over the line the founders intended, but I don’t think any president has gone as far as this one.
“He’s supported more czars than the Romanovs.”
3) Please don’t solicit from companies that you regulate
Alexander charged that current HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has done just that, and said the practice needs to end.
4) Be a good steward of taxpayer dollars
“Apparently, the government is set to spend more than $1 billion federal tax dollars in technology costs of the Obamacare website,” he said. He added that millions were lost on four state-level exchanges.
“This kind of waste makes American taxpayers furious.”
5) Show Americans some respect
“Don’t announce major policy changes in blog posts, and when Congress asks if you’re in trouble, don’t pretend everything’s fine,” he said. “If Secretary Sebelius had been up front about the website problems before the rollout, we might have saved Americans precious time and money.”