Obama taps Sylvia Mathews Burwell as White House budget director

Courtesy of Walmart - Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

President Obama on Monday will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, head of Wal-Mart’s philanthropic efforts, as White House budget director, a senior administration official confirmed Sunday night.

Burwell, a veteran of President Bill Clinton’s economic team, will replace Jeffrey Zients as director of the Office of Management and Budget. She will bring gender diversity as well as corporate experience to Obama’s inner circle at a time of budget battles with Congress.

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Burwell is president of the Wal-Mart Foundation, one of the nation’s biggest corporate philanthropies, which supports such initiatives as women’s economic empowerment, hunger relief and environmental sustainability.

In a statement Sunday, Mike Duke, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart, said, “Sylvia does a great job leading the Walmart Foundation, and if confirmed by the Senate, will do a tremendous job serving our country.”

Obama’s selection of a woman to fill one of his top economic positions comes after he faced criticism earlier in his second term for appointing men to many of his administration’s top posts, including White House Chief of Staff Denis R. McDonough, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

In the 1990s, Burwell served as deputy budget director and deputy White House chief of staff. She also served as chief of staff for then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. She joins Lew and National Economic Council Director Gene B. Sperling among other Clinton administration veterans on Obama’s economics team.

Obama plans to officially nominate Burwell on Monday, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not been made. News of Burwell’s selection was first reported Sunday by Reuters.

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