WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama worked to turn a page Friday on his signature health care law, nominating White House aide Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace embattled Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services.
Known for her management skills, Burwell will become the new face of the Affordable Care Act, a law with a troubled track record that could threaten Democratic prospects in this fall's congressional elections.
The first test for Burwell will come in the Senate, which unanimously confirmed her as White House budget director last year but which likely will use her confirmation hearings next month to stage a partisan debate over Obamacare.
The hearings could get contentious, as Republican senators seize the opportunity in the run-up to elections to campaign against the health law. But Burwell also could end up looking good by comparison to her predecessor Sebelius, who bore the brunt of the blame for Obamacare's botched rollout and glitch-filled website.
A veteran of Democratic administrations, Burwell is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University in England, where she was a Rhodes scholar. She has a lengthy record of public service as well as extensive experience in the private sector.