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U.S. President Barack Obama listens after nominating Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell (R) to replace outgoing U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (not seen), during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3KWIU
Republicans used the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as an opportunity to bash Obamacare, and they hinted that they would make confirmation of her successor—Sylvia Mathews Burwell—a major headache for President Obama and Harry Reid. So it's a real reflection of how much their anti-Obamacare balloon has deflated that Burwell sailed through a confirmation vote Thursday, 78-17.

A handful of Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz's faithful sidekick Michael Lee (UT), didn't even bother to show up to vote.

RT @abettel: 4 GOP senators not voting on Burwell: Boozman, Cochran, Lee, Scott. 24 others supported confirmation. #HHS
@maryagnescarey
Burwell got significant Republican support even after Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell announced his opposition to her, which he qualified by making clear that he wasn't voting against her, but against Obamacare.
"By most accounts, Sylvia Burwell is a smart and skilled public servant," McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor of the current head of President Barack Obama's Office of Management and Budget. […]

"Her embrace of Obamacare calls her policy judgment into question," McConnell explained. "And when it comes to the task of implementing this ill-conceived and disastrous law, the president may as well have nominated Sisyphus, because as I indicated, Ms. Burwell has been asked to do the impossible here." […]

"In my view, the Senate shouldn't be focusing on a new captain for the Titanic. It should focus on steering away from the iceberg," said McConnell, suggesting he won't support anyone to head the nation's health programs unless Obamacare is repealed.

"Her embrace of this disastrous law is reason enough to oppose her confirmation," McConnell said. "So 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."

McConnell might be the only Republican running for office still saying the word "repeal" out loud, since it's now officially (?) out of favor while strategists try to figure out what in the hell they're going to do about the repeal corner they've painted themselves into. McConnell is still floundering on that one, too, but at least he can point to this vote to tell his base that he hasn't lost the repeal faith, even though he wants to keep the law in Kentucky.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 12:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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