Sylvia Mathews Burwell Nominated to Replace Kathleen Sebelius

The President says Sebelius has shown "extraordinary leadership" as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
31:18 | 04/11/14

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Transcript for Sylvia Mathews Burwell Nominated to Replace Kathleen Sebelius
This is a special group. Hello everyone I'm Devin Dwyer -- New York changing of the guard at the Department of Health and Human Services secretary of the HHS Kathleen severely as is stepping down. As obamacare which she oversaw is beginning to look up. Joining us now from the Rose Garden at the White House for this announcement. Senior Washington correspondent Jeff -- Jeff thanks so much for being here the president is gonna come out didn't just a few moments but give us. The lay of the land here this wasn't entirely unexpected right. -- right -- the president will be joining us momentarily but this is not unexpected but the timing. Is a little -- a little sooner than some people thought only because a new confirmation hearing now. Pass to start -- in these critical months leading up to the mid term election but. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is ending on a high note but. -- rocky road throughout this past several months getting health care certainly will be a subject of debate at these confirmation hearings haven't. As -- said she's certainly been a lightning rod and all of this what do we expect to hear from the president today and in no doubt he's in -- touch -- her legacy but also I give us a nod to who hill who will replace her. Sure he's definitely going to. -- her -- service and it's important to note they are very close. Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas at the time provided -- critical endorsement to him. Back in 2008 so they've been close since then. But today he's going to -- her service and announced his. Replacement -- nomination and that's for Sylvia Mathews for welcomed the new Rogers director I'm that important to note that she was confirmed house in 96 to nothing -- this budget director position he's he has to dwell on the senate but still -- health -- remains a very controversial issue W. He -- future it will he needs he counselor for Detroit forward Jeff she's got some challenges on her hand but let's look back just for a minute while we're waiting for the president here. Give us a sense of what testing -- -- legacy will be certainly present time hearing. Not only pleasant all sorts of ideas in it and he had to turn it -- I haven't had nothing to the podium and -- this dubious at these are well. Good morning terrible week. Okay. -- -- MI six -- year in office. I am extraordinary grateful to have so many aides and advisors who have been there since the earliest days. But it's still somewhat bittersweet when any of them leave for new endeavors. Even when their success -- successor is wonderful. In early march. Kathleen Sebelius -- secretary of health and human services told me she'd be moving on once the first -- Roman period. Under the Affordable Care Act came to an end. And after five years. -- extraordinary service to our country. And seven and a half million Americans who signed up for health coverage. I have will miss her advice. -- mr. friendship will miss her -- But I am proud to nominate some way to succeed -- who holds these same traits in abundance. Sylvia Matthews -- -- how. Just -- things by carefully when I'm nominated Kathleen more than five years ago. Shotgun to know Kathleen. When she was governor -- Kansas and -- strong shown extraordinary skills there was great advisor and supporter during my presidential campaign. And so I knew that she was up for what was tough job I mentioned to her the one of -- many responsibilities. At HHS would be to make sure our country is prepared for a pandemic flu outbreak. I didn't know at the time that would literally be her first task. Nobody rivers that now but it wants and it just gives you a sense of the sorts of daily challenges. That Kathleen has handled often without fanfare often on acknowledged. But that have been critical to help. And welfare of the American people. She's fought to improve children's -- from birth to kindergarten. Expanded maternal health care. Reduced racial and ethnic disparities. Brought us closer to the first aids free generation. She's been a tireless advocate. For women's health. And of course what Kathleen will go down in history for is serving as the secretary of health and human services. When the United States of America finally declared. The quality affordable healthcare is not a privilege but it is they write for every single citizen how he. -- -- It has been here through won't be long fight. To pass the affordable care to -- -- its implementation even when it got rough. She's got -- I've got bumps and bruises. But. We did it because we knew. All the people that we've met. All across the country. Who'll. Get lost a home. Had put off care. They've decided. Took to stay with the jobs -- -- start -- business. Because they were uncertain about their health care situation we have met families. Who. Had seen their children suffer because of the -- of healthcare. And we were committed to get this done. And that's what we've done. And that's what Kathleen stuff. Yes we lost the first quarter of open enrollment period with the problems with -- -- -- got. And there were problems. But under -- -- leadership. Her team at HHS. Turned. The corner. Got it fixed got the job done. In the final score speaks for itself there are seven and million people across the country that have the security. Of health insurance. Most of them for the very first time and that's because -- the woman standing next to me here today -- It's. Who scored. And by the way in the meantime alongside. Seven -- knowing people being enrolled. -- -- costs. America -- leadership are growing at their slowest rate in fifty years. I keep on reading -- and I don't think -- -- except. They're -- of the slowest -- but here's what what does that mean. That's in part because. -- extraordinary leadership. Health records are moving from dog eared paper to high tech systems. Gently partnered with the Department of Justice to aggressively pursue health care -- and return billions of dollars. Record songs. To the Medicare trust -- All told -- things work over the past five years will benefit our families. And this country. For decades to come up. So we want to thank. Gently -- -- first due to Kansas. We got. Two outstanding sons net job. Open while the share their mom what this these past five years. And -- and over your dad who served as governor of Ohio. -- inspired you to pursue public service and passed away last year would have been so -- -- today so. Kathleen we want to thank you want to get through service to our country. Yeah. We know there still more work to do -- -- Jake -- There's more work to do to implement the Affordable Care Act. There's another enrollment period coming up about six months from now. -- whole array of responsibilities to meet over at this large and very important agency. And I could choose no manager as experienced. As competent. As my current director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Matthews -- So this from a small town. -- West Virginia. This -- brings. The common sense. You see it in small -- She brings the values. Of caring about your neighbor and ordinary folks to some of the biggest and most complex challenges. Of her time. She's a proven manager -- demonstrator -- To feel great teams -- strong relationships. And deliver excellent results at the highest levels and she's -- -- both in the public and private sectors. Is CEO and later president for global development of the gates foundation. So we -- worked on the cutting edge of the world's most pressing health challenges. As the head of the Wal-Mart foundation. And a member of the board at met life she gave firsthand experience. In how insurance markets work and how they can work better for businesses. And families alike. Here -- my budget director of the white ushers are delivered results. After all in the years since she arrived the deficit has plunged by more than 400 billion dollars I'm just saying. That's happened. And during that time. When the government was forced to shut down last October. And even as most of her own team was -- From reporting to work soldier was Iraq. A steady hand. On the wheel who helped navigate the country through -- very challenging time. Once the government was allowed to reopen Sylvia was vital to winning. The two year budget agreement that put an end to these manufactured crises that we've seen here in Washington's that we could keep our. Full focus on growing economy and creating new jobs and expanding opportunity. For -- body. Is seeking opportune. And all the while she's helped advance. Important initiatives bring conservatives -- for -- including her efforts to speed up. -- operation by dramatically speeding up the permitting process for big infrastructure projects. So Sylvia is a -- proven manager. -- you know -- -- deliver results. -- shall need to be approved manager because these -- tough. Tests big challenges. You know from covering more families -- economic security. That health insurance provides to ensuring the safety of our food and drug supply. Protecting the country from outbreak. Or bio terrorist -- to keeping America the forefront of job creating medical research. All of us rely on the dedicated service and scientists. Researchers. At HHS. And the FDA. And CDC. And NIH. All of them are extraordinary team and sometimes. The American people take for granted the incredible. Network. Outstanding public servants that we have were helping to keep us healthy and help -- improve our lives every single day. So I want -- -- Stephen. So -- husband and Matthew. And -- -- for sharing wife and mom. Where this little bit longer. Won't -- senior around the White House but I know that you're gonna do an outstanding job as America's secretary of health and human services. I hope that the senate. Confirm sobero without delay. She's -- -- great. Last time jurors confirmed unanimously. I'm assuming. Not that much has changed since that time. It would that I want to give them both and doctors say a few words that started with carefully. I want to start by -- you Mr. President and mr. vice president for. Giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to serve in this cabinet. I want to thank my HHS -- many of whom are here at least the health leaders are here. For their incredible work and my personal -- Represented today by our older son now that my wonderful daughter mom Lisa. My husband -- is on the bench in Kansas today doing multiple hearings which he does each and every day in our younger son is in. Ecuador but there with us in spirit. The president has parity and made this case but I want to remake it HHS is an amazing department. It's full of bright and talented and hardworking people who believes strongly in our important mission. Providing health care and essential human services to all Americans. Now inscribed on the walls of the Humphrey building where your office will be. Are the words of the namesake. What Hubert Humphrey said as the moral test of government. Is how that government treats those are who are in the dawn of life the children. Those who are in the twilight of life the elderly and those who are in the shadow of life. And that really I think describes. What we do in HHS. For our work on birth to kindergarten initiatives to providing for the elderly and disabled. Are employees help their friends and neighbors every day. The researchers in NH labs and scientists working to improve new drugs and devices. Are helping change the face of humanity. By advancing new cures research and innovation. We're advancing public health in the US and around the globe with anti smoking efforts in promoting maternal and child health. Finally. Behavioral health and physical health issues will be considered both part of essential treatment and that's a big step forward. Our workers says the president sent lookout for a safe and secure food and drug supply and a global market. And are Smart diplomacy and sharing health expertise and advances. Win the hearts and minds nations across the globe. We have done transformational work in tribal communities across this country that we'll never be the same again. So at any point in our history that mission would be highly rewarding and some of the most important work anybody could do. But I had an additional amazing opportunity. No one is ever have this before. I got to be a leader of HHS doing during these most historic times. We are on the front lines of a long overdue national change fixing a broken health system. Now this is the most meaningful work I've ever been -- in fact it's been the cause of my life. And I knew it wouldn't be easy. There's a reason that no earlier president was successful in passing health reform despite decades of attempts. But throughout the legislative battles. Supreme Court challenge -- contentious reelection and years of votes to turn back the clock. We are making progress tremendous progress. And critics and supporters alike are benefiting from this law. My professional work as a legislator. And insurance commissioner and a governor. Have been tremendously helpful in navigating the policy and politics of this historic change. But at the end of the day health is personal. It's personal to all of us. Family illnesses and personal health challenges touches to our core. I've spent time as a daughter navigating care for ill parents. As a mother and now grandmother have experience in worried about prenatal care and healthy babies. We've had handling health challenges as all of us have and finding the right -- can be difficult. Even with the best context and the right resources. So the personal reward for me at the end of the day. Are the folks who approached the strangers are approaching at a meeting -- Past -- out on a plane her hand me a phone with someone on the other -- saying thank you. Their stories are so heartening. And that finally feeling secure. And knowing they can take care of themselves and their families. -- -- -- The pages missing. So I'm just grateful for having had this wonderful opportunity. The president was in Austin yesterday at the LBJ library commemorating. Fifty years. In the civil rights efforts that led by Lyndon Johnson. And fifty years ago my father was part of that historic congress he served in the congress with the passage of Medicare. And Medicaid with headstart and those programs are now in the agency I've had the honor to lead. It seems likely wonderful passing of the time and the Affordable Care Act is the most significant. Social change in this country. In that fifty year period of time. So I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. I appreciate all of this effort in support you thank my cabinet colleagues who -- here on the front row. And not only aren't -- here today on the front row that they've been part of an all hands on deck effort making sure that that seven and a half million people. We're able to sign up for affordable health care so thank you Mr. President. And what I know is that Sylvia. In the year I've had the opportunity to work with her. Is a trusted and valued friend. A great partner she will be a terrific leader for HHS -- First -- like to thank you Mr. President mr. vice president for the trust you placed in me at my role -- Allenby. And your confidence in nominating me for this new well. Seconds. As we honor Kathleen accomplishments here today I also want to personally -- for her support and friendship through this year. -- -- express my heartfelt thanks to the team at the office of management and budget and to our congressional counterparts. With -- -- had the privilege to work closely throughout this year. OMB is an extraordinary institution. It's a credit to the professionalism. And commitment of -- people. That we've been able to meaningfully improve our nation's fiscal policy and government management. Over the past year. -- someone -- thank my family especially my husband -- it's their support that allows me to serve. I'm humbled. Honored. And excited by the opportunity to build on the achievements that Kathleen. The president and so many others have put in place. If confirmed by the senate. I look forward to carrying on the important work of ensuring that children. Families. And seniors. Have the building blocks of healthy and productive lives. Whether it's through implementing the Affordable Care Act. Supporting affordable child care or finding new frontiers to prevent and treat disease. Thank you must have. One -- -- around applauds. Thank you definitely for your service thank you. The watching President Obama bidding farewell to health secretary Kathleen Cynthia Leeson dominating her replacement. But he -- Soviet or will there in the Rose Garden the president saying he's proud of -- -- despite the rocky launch of obamacare earlier this year. Saying quote she's got bumps I've got bumps. -- thing going on to celebrate seven point five million people. Who have signed up for obamacare health insurance plans to talk about all this now we're joined by ABC news political director Rick Klein Rick thanks so much for being here. After all this controversy seven point five million sign ups. A bit of vindication for CB aliases and -- Is least because of those numbers she was able to go out with him of something of victory lap -- -- Rose Garden ceremony. There was nothing to suggest in this event that she was pushed out in any -- able -- -- -- on her own terms glowing words from the president. Glowing words from her. Would be successor although I have a feeling -- that the sound like everyone is going to be playing and -- -- is the metaphor that -- -- buried in the fact that she lost the page in her speech. And and of course acknowledge that on camera in and goes on says it to try to do -- he -- to recover. And Jeff we still have you there in the Rose Garden give us the sense there at the White House how people are fuming about this transition now. Certainly a big milestone after all that trouble. -- your right it is a very big milestone and the president clearly is trying to put a bit of a silver lining. On secretaries -- abilities his tenure here in the administration he said the final score speaks for itself. Of course that has the seven point five. Billion people who are in -- in the Affordable Care Act but. History of course will be a little bit broader than that but you know today was definitely -- celebrating in praising and thanking secretary Sebelius she did have a very difficult. A -- hand and Rick is right and perhaps in the department -- you can't catch a good break. She had a bit of -- a -- missing from her speech. So. If she moved on to talk probably batter other accomplishments there but I think what this really mean substantively is that the senate confirmation hearings are going to be very interesting. It's going to reopen the possibility and the litigation in this whole health care law. Once again. There's no indication that they'll be strong opposition -- Soviet map calls. Matthews -- well but they're certainly will be so many questions asked about who are these seven point five million people. And on that point Rick what are we hearing from Republicans on this transition both about severely -- and now about for well. Interesting to -- from a lot of with the Republicans are saying there could graduate congratulating secretary civilians in the sense that they say. She had to manage the unmanageable that nobody could have done anything to -- obamacare that fits very well. With their campaign theme of privately I think some Republicans would rather seen her stay in office through the fall because -- be such a lightning rod for criticism. The opportunity now is for Democrats have a fresh start with the new director. A no indications of trouble ahead for Sylvia Mathews she is someone that is seen as whose son is is someone who has worked well with Republicans she's had a tough. Rhodes a hole over the OMB she had the of course the government shut down to take care of there's been some stopped and started again negotiations with the Republicans around a grand bargain hasn't gone very far you saw -- the first rounds is fired in the confirmation battle with the president saying. Well she was confirmed unanimously last time I can't imagine much has changed since that. OMB director little bit different than secretary of health and human services. And Republican Senator John McCain this is praising the choice of -- saying she's a very good picks up perhaps. Bode well for her confirmation hearings but Jeff didn't give us a sense of who were well is what challenges she faces if she is indeed did confirm to HHS. What -- is initially a veteran of the Clinton administration and then she has moved on to the various private sector roles including at the gates foundation the Wal-Mart foundation and I think want to -- The president said and in his praise for her was that -- guided the government through that shut down last fall. So I expect that that will be the centerpiece of her expect -- Her expertise that she presents to -- The senate as they -- -- her confirmation hearings but she's known as a very strong leader a good navigator of these things and really that's what HHS is that at. At this point they need someone to manage this program and move the Affordable Care Act. Into its next phase so we heard President Obama praising her management abilities and I think -- that said the central argument that we will see. From her when she faces that's confirmation hearings in the coming week. It's -- White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told the New York Times last night in an interview that this that the west wing there was looking for relentless. Implement here in this HHS job. What does that suggest about -- well and maybe what they didn't have been severely yes. I think a couple things -- -- -- she's generation younger than Kathleen Sebelius and by all accounts more tech -- maybe someone who could manage some of the web functions with a little bit more savvy. Through all of this also -- are managing a bureaucracy highly technical bureaucracy at the Office of Management and Budget by all accounts again. Rather successfully. Gives her an opportunity to do this keep in mind this is -- not like someone like -- abilities who comes at a from the political perspective this is someone who comes at a from the management -- -- involved with the organizations like the gates foundation of course only be as well. And there is a huge management task is also -- congressional task in trying to work. With the congress that is dead set on still repealing this for many Republican members. To know you can -- -- relationships try to get people enrolled try to make this work or what the outside stakeholders in the insurance company in a lot of ways the next year could be more complicated. For a -- here because that is when the rubber hits the road that's when the insurance companies actually have to start treating these patients and that have to worry about how the economics -- -- -- work for next year as the president mentioned. Another open enrollment just a few months away so it is going to be a never ending torrents. Never did indeed but before we let you go Rick and Jeff want to ask you look at your crystal balls. Five years from now if obamacare keeps growing becomes an institution like Medicare obviously not a given at this point but. What do you think severely as his legacy will look like once we move on to an administration. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Your -- and I think as secretary Sebelius is legacy really is yet to be known we're going to see how this implementation works you know. The everyone generally looks better in hindsight a few years down the road so if this and Affordable Care Act debt -- continues to enroll more people by 2016 if those projections. Held up and we have so many more millions of people. She certainly will look better but the -- matter -- the -- fact of the matter is we don't generally think about cabinet secretaries in past tense this is all president Obama's legacy. He will either rise or fall by how this law ultimately works. Effort I'll wait for the memoirs that and all this as you saw the president heaping praise on secretary civilians. You wonder if she has something to say that she -- -- publish something at some point the talks about the true story of what was going on -- on the White House. Who would said the White House comes out back -- go a long way toward defining who was at fault in this. He was so telling about president Obama's management style that he didn't fire Kathleen Sebelius when it would have been the politically expedient thing to do. His -- was look this is the same people that I need to manage this to fix it they know it's a wanted to get rid of them right now. They'll let her leave on her own terms it may have some political motivation in terms of making sure that someone isn't firing away politically on the way out. But it has a lot of policy implications well and and Jeff is right if this law largely is uses -- five years ten years fifteen years from now. Their legacy looks a lot different than it does right now. Are we all anxiously await those -- -- -- there's certainly going to be a fascinating read on all this ABC news political director Rick Klein senior Washington correspondent Jeff zoning at the White House thank you both. And thank you for joining us you can keep up on this story in real time by downloading the ABC news app and -- in this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm -- and -- New York thanks for watching.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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