WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Walmart’s Sylvia Matthews Burwell as his next budget director, a senior administration official said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Burwell would take the helm at the Office of Management and Budget at a time of heated budget battles between the White House and congressional Republicans. She would also bring more diversity to Obama’s second-term Cabinet following criticism that many top jobs were going to white men.
The 47-year-old Burwell is a Washington veteran, having served as OMB’s deputy director in the Clinton administration and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She currently runs the Walmart Foundation, the retail giant’s philanthropic wing, and previously served as president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.
Burwell’s nomination signals that the White House is trying to get back to normal business after the president and Congress failed to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that took effect Friday. While the president has warned of dire consequences for the economy as a result of the cuts, the White House does not want the standoff with Congress to keep the president from focusing on other second-term priorities, including filling out his Cabinet and pursuing stricter gun laws and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system.
Obama made quick work of filling key national security openings in his administration, but has been slower to makes appointments for other Cabinet openings, including the OMB post. Vacancies also remain at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Commerce and Energy Departments, and the U.S. trade representative.
Burwell would replace acting OMB director Jeffrey Zients, a well-liked figure in the Obama administration who has been discussed as a contender for other top jobs.
The official requested anonymity in order to confirm the nomination ahead of Obama’s announcement.