WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama today will nominate Wal-Mart’s Sylvia Mathews 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 president will announce Burwell’s nomination during a White House ceremony this morning, said the official, who requested anonymity in order to confirm the nomination ahead of Obama.
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. Burwell currently runs the Wal-Mart Foundation, the retail giant’s philanthropic wing, and previously served as president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.
The official credited Burwell with being a principal architect of a series of budget plans in the 1990s that led to a budget surplus.
Wal-Mart President Mike Duke called Burwell a strong leader with a “clear vision for making big things happen.”
“She understands business and the role that business, government and civil society must play to build a strong economy that provides opportunity and strengthens communities across the country,” Duke said in a statement.
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.