Obama submits Berwick for confirmation

July 19, 2010 at 7:33 PM

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- President Obama, without fanfare, submitted Donald Berwick's name to the U.S. Senate Monday for confirmation as the top Medicare and Medicaid administrator.

Obama had sidestepped the confirmation process two weeks ago when he appointed Berwick while the Senate was on recess for the July Fourth holiday. That bristled Senate Republicans.

Obama issued no statement with Monday's announcement on the White House Web site that Berwick's nomination as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had been submitted along with several others.

Even without Senate approval Berwick can stay in the post through 2011.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., used the weekly GOP radio and Internet address Saturday to slam Obama. He urged the president to put Berwick's nomination in play, otherwise "the American people do not have the opportunity to learn about the man who will control one-third of all healthcare spending in America."

Roberts repeated Republican criticisms of healthcare reform and statements by Berwick, a Harvard University professor, including a remark that healthcare funding plans should redistribute wealth from the richer to the poorest.

In an interview with NBC aired Friday, Obama defended the recess appointment, saying the job was too important to be delayed by "political games."

"There have been more delays, obstruction and stalling when it comes to just appointing people to run the day-to-day aspects of Washington than any president has experienced in history," Obama said. "I can't play political games with the Senate on these issues. I've got a government to run."

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