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Obama taps Walmart Foundation head as budget chief

Adam Crowley / PR Newswire via Newscom

Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

President Barack Obama will nominate Walmart Foundation head Sylvia Mathews Burwell to direct the Office of Management and Budget, a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News on Sunday.

Burwell, 47, runs Walmart’s philanthropic arm and served as the deputy director of the OMB during the Clinton administration and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. If confirmed by the Senate, she would take on one of the most important jobs in the administration during the middle of an intense budget battle
between the White House and Republicans in Congress.

“Burwell has a proven record as a thoughtful problem solver who builds consensus to get things done,” according to a White House official. She has a “deep knowledge of budget and economic issues along with her record of fighting for working Americans make her the perfect choice to lead the OMB at this important time.”

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Obama also introduced Gina McCarthy as nominee to head the EPA and Ernest Moniz to take over the Energy Department.

The official stressed Burwell’s history as a bipartisan problem solver who helped craft the budget surpluses seen in the 1990s.

Before joining the Walmart Foundation, Burwell was president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. When she left to join the retail giant in 2012, she also led Walmart's Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative.

Burwell’s appointment will also help bring diversity to the president’s cabinet, which was criticized earlier this year after Obama appointed a series of white males to top positions. She would be only the second woman to hold the position, according
to the Washington Post.

Walmart president Mike Duke said in a statement that Burell “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.”

Obama will announce the nomination on Monday. Burrell would replace acting OMB director Jeffrey Zients.