Senate Committee Approves Sebelius for HHS

Posted April 21, 2009 at 10:09am

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the secretary of Health and Human Services.

The committee voted 15-8 in favor of Sebelius, the former insurance commissioner and current Democratic governor of Kansas. Sebelius boasts a popular record in the conservative-leaning state despite her views on abortion, although her abortion rights stance led to a handful of “no— votes from Republicans on the Finance panel, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who also sits on the committee, supported his home state colleague’s nomination to head the health agency.

As HHS secretary, Sebelius will have a leading role in the health care debate that will be the focus of both chambers this spring and summer. Indeed, the Finance Committee interrupted a roundtable discussion on health care Tuesday in order to vote on the nomination.

Sebelius was President Barack Obama’s second pick to fill the HHS post.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) withdrew his nomination after coming under fire for failing to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on time. Sebelius’ nomination was briefly shaken — although not threatened — when it was discovered that she had more than $8,000 in misfiled taxes and received campaign donations from a late-term abortion doctor.

The nomination now moves to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass. If confirmed, Sebelius will fill the last vacant secretary post in the Obama administration.