Sylvia Burwell: ‘First and Foremost, I Serve the American People’

By Melanie Arter | May 8, 2014 | 12:20 PM EDT

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become secretary of Health and Human Services, appears before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for her confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – When asked whether she will serve as “ambassador of Obamacare” like her predecessor Kathleen Sebelius or “the Health and Human Services Secretary for the American people,” the Obama administration’s nominee to head HHS, Sylvia Burwell, told a Senate committee Thursday that she serves the American people “first and foremost.”

“I am part of the president’s administration. I am honored to be appointed. First and foremost, I serve the American people. I believe that the president and his policies are aligned with that and will work, but I’m here to serve the American people,” Burwell said at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Burwell told the committee that the Affordable Care Act has improved the economy, reduced the growth of health costs and premiums, and expanded coverage. “The law is making a positive difference,” she said.

“Will you be the health and Human Services Secretary for the American people or will you be as your predecessor has been the ambassador of Obamacare?” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) asked.

“In my current role at OMB - and if I am confirmed in this other role, it is my objective – and as I’ve talked about in my opening statement - I am here to serve the American people,” said Burwell, who currently serves as White House Budget Director.

Scott also asked Burwell if she will be willing “to be clear and honest with the American people, the Congress and this committee about the implementation of Obamacare regardless of what the administration’s policy is.”

“Senator, you have my commitment that if I am confirmed, the two … principles that will guide me with regard to information are transparency and accuracy. Those are the two things, and I will work to do that in due course in terms of speed as well,” Burwell said.