Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s willingness to implement Obamacare “calls her policy judgment into question” and is enough for him to oppose her nomination as secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.
“I’ll be voting against this nominee because I think we need to focus on repealing and replacing this law, not trying to do the impossible by pretending we can make it work,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Despite his protests, Mrs. Burwell is likely to breeze to confirmation in an up-down vote later Thursday.
Democrats alone have enough votes to approve President Obama’s pick to replace HHS Secreatary Kathleen Sebelius, and more than a dozen Republicans voted Wednesday to put Mrs. Burwell’s nomination on the floor.
Nonetheless, conservative lawmakers lined up early Thursday to lambast the health overhaul and air their latest concerns about its rollout.
Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, said it is time to “repeal and replace” the law, citing reports of inaccurate subsidy payments to roughly 2 million Obamacare customers.
“The Obamacare train wreck just keeps rolling on,” Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, said Mrs. Burwell may be a “delightful person,” but her background as White House budget chief has not prepared her for the new role.
“This is not the right position for her,” he said.
Another Republican, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, reiterated his opposition to a carve-out that lets federal lawmakers and staff retain an employer subsidy for their health care, even though they must get coverage from the Obamacare exchanges.
By stark contrast, Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, thanked Mrs. Sebelius for her service and defended the health care law, saying that among other benefits people will see doctors instead of flooding emergency rooms.
“My colleagues say things that are just not true,” Mr. Cardin said. “Look at the facts.”