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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I want to, first of all, commend the Senator from Utah for his comments. We all know the Senator from Utah, like myself, has a real interest in making sure our government is more efficient and more effective in its operations, and know, as well, that the Senator from Utah has not always been necessarily supportive of health care reform, the Affordable Care Act. But I appreciate the comments of the Senator from Utah about Marilyn Tavenner.

I have known Marilyn Tavenner for 25 years. I think while we may disagree about the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, we do know one thing: We want CMS to be the most efficient, effective organization possible. I commend the Senator from Utah for his strong endorsement of Marilyn Tavenner. I think he spoke eloquently about her background. I am going to try to add a few comments, but I did not want to let him get away without my thanking him for his comments.

I rise today to join this bipartisan show of support for the President's nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Marilyn Tavenner. She comes to the floor this afternoon on a fairly unusual circumstance, considering some of the nominees we are considering. She came actually with a unanimous voice vote from the Senate Finance Committee. She is supported by a number of health care organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the SEIU, the American Nurses Association, just to name a few.

As I mentioned already, I have known Marilyn Tavenner for 25 years. She is the real deal. She will be a phenomenal choice to continue to lead CMS. Marilyn grew up in a small town in southside Virginia and worked her way through school. She began her health care career not as a hospital administrator or an executive, but she began on the front lines as an emergency room nurse.

Then through her ability, and her ability to relate to people and care, she rose to become CEO of a hospital and then a senior executive of a leading health care company. I know as Governor I called upon Marilyn on a repeated basis on health care issues that affected Virginia. Marilyn has always been committed to people and public service. She took that private sector knowledge and experience into the public sector even before her tenure with this administration when she joined my good friend, the junior Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine when he became Governor and served with his administration as the Virginia Secretary of Health.

Today, Marilyn has already served at the highest levels of CMS, where she has shown her ability to manage and operate one of the largest and most complex agencies in our whole government. By spending most of her career in the private sector, she knows the impact that regulations and rules have on the real world and understands the importance of not just achieving a policy goal but ensuring that it works in practice.

As we all know, passing a law like the ACA is a complicated process, particularly a law like this that has generated as much controversy. That means the role of the Administrator of CMS to be evenhanded, fact-based, effective, and efficient in implementing the dramatic transformation of the health care market that the ACA is going to provide will require a first class Administrator, somebody who understands how to get things done and somebody who is well-respected by both sides of the aisle. Marilyn Tavenner clearly fits that bill.

She is held in extraordinarily high esteem. We, again, heard the ranking member on the Finance Committee already speak in her support. She received unanimous support from the Finance Committee, but she is also held in extraordinarily high esteem by her peers. In fact, in February all of the previous living Senate-confirmed Administrators of the CMS--Democrats, Republicans,

Independents, all of them who have run the agency in the past--sent a letter urging her confirmation, noting that it was ``hard to imagine a candidate more worthy of bipartisan support.''

I look forward to voting with what I hope will be an overwhelming majority of my colleagues to confirm Marilyn for this very important role a little bit later this afternoon. I know I am about to give up my time and yield to the great new Senator from Massachusetts. I know she is going to be speaking about another nominee, someone with whom I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of times, for a role that may be almost as controversial as being head of CMS, being Administrator of EPA.

I want to say that in my conversations with Gina McCarthy she seems to bring a breadth of background of work at the State level, working under both Democratic and Republican administrations. I know the Senator from Massachusetts is going to speak to her qualifications, but as long as I am here I want to add my voice as well that I think Ms. McCarthy will be a great head of the EPA, and I look forward to joining my friend and colleague, the Senator from Massachusetts, in supporting her.

I yield the floor.


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