WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to nominate Walmart’s philanthropic head Sylvia Mathews Burwell to become director of the White House budget office on Monday, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
Burwell, 47, is a veteran of Bill Clinton’s White House and for the past year has been president of the Walmart Foundation at the corporation’s Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. The charity organization in 2011 gave out nearly $1 billion in corporate contributions to projects around the world such as fighting hunger and empowering women.
Burwell, who is originally from West Virginia, would replace Jeffrey Zients, who has been serving as acting director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, known by the acronym OMB.
The move will reunite her with another Clinton White House veteran, Jack Lew, who was Clinton’s OMB director for a time and was recently confirmed as Obama’s treasury secretary.
The sources, who asked to remain unidentified, said plans were for Burwell to be nominated on Monday. The job requires Senate confirmation.
Burwell would take over the office that carries out the administration’s spending policies and prepares an annual budget. The budget office will inevitably be caught up in the ongoing budget battle between Democrats and Republicans as lawmakers seek ways to reduce annual $1 trillion federal budgets.
She brings a certain outsider status to Obama’s inner circle and may offer a fresh perspective from the business world far away from Washington.
Burwell would also bring gender diversity to the top echelons of the Obama White House after the president drew fire from critics for picking men for many top jobs.
Burwell had served as deputy OMB director during part of Clinton’s 1990s presidency. She was also deputy White House chief of staff and served as chief of staff for Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
After her work in the Clinton administration, Burwell served as president of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She led the foundation’s grantmaking and advocacy efforts aimed at lifting the world’s poorest people out of hunger and extreme poverty.
Editing by Eric Beech and Christopher Wilson