Bush Pick for Medicare Chief Could Serve Without Confirmation
Kerry Weems, who President Bush named as acting CMS administrator earlier this week after he nominated him as permanent agency administrator in May, could remain in the position until Bush leaves office without Senate confirmation, The Hill reports.
As acting CMS administrator, Weems, previously deputy chief of staff for HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, can remain in the position "indefinitely with the same legal authority as if he had been confirmed," and his appointment "appears to all but eliminate the need for the Senate to carry out its constitutional advise-and-consent role," according to The Hill (Young, The Hill, 9/7).
The Senate has not scheduled a vote to confirm the Weems nomination. At a July 25 confirmation hearing, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that members would not vote on the nomination until they had all of their questions answered. A Democratic spokesperson for the committee on Wednesday declined to provide a timeline for the vote (Armstrong, CQ HealthBeat, 9/5).
White House spokesperson Emily Lawrimore said that the Bush administration will continue to work with the Senate to have the Weems nomination confirmed, and an aide to committee member Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made a similar statement (The Hill, 9/7).