WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Wal-Mart’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next budget chief, thrusting her into the center of Washington’s heated partisan budget battles.
Obama announced Burwell’s selection to lead the Office of Management and Budget during a White House ceremony, noting that her appointment comes as government-wide spending cuts are going into effect that he said mean “eventually a lot of people are going to feel some pain.” The White House and congressional Republicans were unable to reach a deal to avert the cuts ahead of last Friday’s deadline.
If confirmed by the Senate, Burwell would bring more diversity to Obama’s second-term Cabinet following criticism that many top jobs were going to white men.
Burwell is a Washington veteran, having served as chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and as OMB’s deputy director in the Clinton administration, where Obama noted she was on a team that presided over three consecutive budget surpluses. She has been running the Wal-Mart Foundation, the retail giant’s philanthropic wing, and previously served as president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, where Obama said she helped the organization “grow into a global force for good.”