April 10, 2013

Manchin Encourages Senate Budget Committee to Confirm WV Native Burwell as New OMB Director

Senator Manchin introduces OMB Director nominee, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, before her nomination hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced today Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who has been nominated to become the next Director of the Office of Management and Budget, at her nomination hearing before the Senate Budget Committee. Senator Manchin supports the Hinton native’s nomination and believes that her experience as a problem solver and a bold leader in both the public and private sectors proves she can help tackle our country’s financial challenges. Shortly after Senator Manchin voiced his support for Ms. Burwell, President Obama released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014. Senator Manchin believes that the President’s proposal is an imperfect plan, but marks a positive step toward a grand bargain that has eluded Congress during the past few years. He looks forward to Ms. Burwell’s confirmation and her commonsense approach to finalizing and passing a responsible national budget.

“Sylvia’s impressive professional record proves she is a great candidate for this important position. The fact that she has worked so closely with Erskine Bowles – one of the architects of the best template to get our finances in order – and helped produce the last balanced budget and budget surplus our country enjoyed over a decade ago proves that she can help us get our long-term fiscal house in order.

“I would be honored to work alongside a fellow West Virginian as we work on commonsense solutions to control our spending and once again become a fiscally responsible nation. The West Virginia values Sylvia embraced while growing up in Hinton will help set our nation’s priorities as we solve these tough problems.”

Below are Senator Manchin’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Madam Chairwoman, thank you for the opportunity to introduce Sylvia Mathews Burwell to you and your Committee.  She is a great American, a great West Virginian, from the great town of Hinton, and she will make a great Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

I am proud to support Sylvia’s nomination for this prestigious position, one in which she will be responsible for managing our federal spending as we make the tough decisions to put our fiscal house in order. She will be a great partner in that effort.

Sylvia and her family reflect the heart and soul of West Virginia – a state where people are defined by their deeds as much as their words – and Sylvia has already accomplished so much in her life, in public service and philanthropy.

That doesn’t surprise any of us who know the Mathews family and count them among our dearest friends. Her parents have been community leaders in Hinton for over a half century. Her father, Dr. William Mathews, is a longtime optometrist, and her mother, the Honorable Cleo Mathews, previously served as the Mayor of Hinton.

Not only did Cleo serve as mayor of Hinton – she also spent eight years on the State Board of Education, and two as President of the board. She later chaired the West Virginia Center for Professional Development Board, served as Vice President of the National Association of State Boards of Education and served on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Municipal League.

It’s easy to see that public service is part of Sylvia’s DNA. She is proof of the old saying, “the acorn does not fall far from the tree.”

Indeed, Sylvia has traveled the world over, but she has never lost touch with her West Virginia roots. She went off to Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar, but no matter where she is, one day each week, like clockwork, she is on the phone with the two best friends she made in the first grade in Hinton.

Give Sylvia’s resume just a quick glance and you can see that she could earn a fortune in the corporate world.  But instead, she has spent her life helping people all over the world.  I share the beaming pride that her parents and her husband, Stephen, have in her and her life’s work.

As many of you know, Sylvia dedicated the last eleven years to serving the greater good, helping the least fortunate among us both in the United States and throughout the world, as a visionary leader with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, more recently, with the Walmart Foundation.

She served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director at the Gates Foundation from its inception in 2001 until 2006, at which point it was firmly established as a global philanthropic leader. Sylvia then transitioned to the Gates Foundation Global Development Program, where she served as President until 2012 and led the foundation’s $725 million annual effort to improve the lives of more than 200 million people worldwide. Under her leadership, the foundation broke new ground in pursuing sustainable investments in agricultural development; low-income financial services; water and sanitation; global literacy; emergency relief; and poverty alleviation.

Finally, as President of the Walmart Foundation throughout 2012, she led the company’s charitable giving efforts and the Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative.

While her philanthropic achievements speak great volumes about her character, we should remember she’s no stranger to Washington or the Office of Management and Budget. She served as Deputy Director of the OMB from 1998 to 2001 – our last era of fiscal responsibility when balanced deficit reduction gave us balanced federal budgets. We all know that Sylvia was a key part of the Clinton White House team that reached across the aisle and negotiated those balanced budgets with the Republican Congress.

This experience, as a problem solver and a bridge builder, is in high demand these days in Washington. We should take to heart the advice Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles gave her – “You attract more bees with honey.”

Of course, the six years she had previously spent in the Clinton Administration prepared her well for those tough negotiations – Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary, Staff Director for the National Economic Council, and Special Assistant to the Head of the National Economic Council.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell is uniquely qualified to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Not only is she an expert on budgetary and domestic policy, but she also has a proven record of working in a bipartisan way to produce meaningful, enduring results. She understands that a bipartisan solution is a lasting solution.

Madam Chairwoman, as Sylvia answers your questions today, I am certain you will recognize that she is a person of great character, committed to public service, well-versed in the challenges we face as a nation, and endowed with the gift of leadership.

You will see she is a person of keen intellect – nothing escapes her attention or her understanding.

You will see a public servant committed to a federal government that is both cost-effective and compassionate, someone who understands better than most that behind many of those stark-looking numbers in our budget are hard-working families striving for the same American dream that inspired her own Greek immigrant grandparents.

When this hearing is over, you will understand why Sylvia Mathews Burwell, this accomplished native of Hinton, West Virginia, was chosen by The Wall Street Journal in 2005 as one of “The 50 Women To Watch” – AND not just in the United States, but in the world.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell is a leader, a motivator, a visionary.  She will work around the clock to provide American taxpayers the return they deserve on every penny they invest. For that reason – and not just because she is from West Virginia – I am proud to introduce her today and to encourage her swift confirmation as Director of the OMB.