President Barack Obama on Monday announced three Cabinet nominations, including Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation, as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Obama, speaking from the White House East Room, said Burwell will help America find a "way forward" as the country begins to face sequestration—$85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts the president ordered by law Friday in the absence of a federal budget.
"Eventually, a lot of people are going to feel some pain," Obama said.
Burwell has previous budget office experience as deputy director from 1998 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, and she served as deputy chief of staff under Jack Lew, who was confirmed by the Senate last week as treasury secretary. Burwell held the chief of staff position to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin under Clinton.
Burwell began serving as president of the Wal-Mart Foundation, the retail giant's philanthropic arm, in January 2012, and she led Wal-Mart's Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative. Burwell joined Wal-Mart following 10 years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Burwell would take the OMB helm at a critical time for the country as Washington prepares for a major fight between the White House and congressional Republicans over the federal budget.
Burwell also would add diversity to the Cabinet. Obama previously faced criticism for nominating a string of white men to top administration positions at the start of his second term.
Obama on Monday rounded out his Cabinet with two additional nominations: Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ernest Moniz as the new energy secretary and Environmental Protection Agency official Gina McCarthy to be that agency's administrator.
Obama described Moniz, former undersecretary of energy, and McCarthy as a team that will actively work to increase American energy independence and grow the economy while protecting the environment. He added that both will work to combat climate change.
"I hope the Senate will confirm them as soon as possible," Obama said of the three nominees.