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Archive for Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Senate committee approves Sebelius nomination by wide margin

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has taken one step closer to becoming secretary of Health and Human Services.

April 21, 2009, 9:52 a.m. Updated April 21, 2009, 5:20 p.m.

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Senate committee vote confirming Sebelius is delivered

The Finance Committee chairman is told the results of the committee vote and they return to other business. Enlarge video

Preparing for a ceremony? Chairs, podium, flags and curtains were set up on second floor of the Statehouse. Minutes after this photograph was taken, members of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office picked up the chairs. Sebelius' confirmation to lead the federal health and human services department is pending in the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson will be sworn in as governor.

Preparing for a ceremony? Chairs, podium, flags and curtains were set up on second floor of the Statehouse. Minutes after this photograph was taken, members of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office picked up the chairs. Sebelius' confirmation to lead the federal health and human services department is pending in the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson will be sworn in as governor.

Kathleen Sebelius: Two decades in politics

Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.

— Kathleen Sebelius won Senate committee approval as health secretary over Republican opposition Tuesday, putting her on track for a final Senate vote in coming days.

Her expected confirmation would complete President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, which held its first formal meeting Monday without Sebelius there.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 15 to 8 in favor of sending the nomination of Kansas’ two-term Democratic governor to the full Senate. Just two of 10 committee Republicans joined majority Democrats in voting “yes,” signaling GOP concerns over Sebelius’ ties to a Kansas abortion doctor, as well as some broader skepticism about Obama’s health care plans.

Republican senators were under pressure from anti-abortion activists to oppose Sebelius.

But the partisan vote sparked an angry response and an apparent threat from one committee Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.

“I was surprised by the fact that so few Republicans supported a moderate, qualified candidate like Gov. Sebelius,” Schumer said. “It’s an ominous signal of the level of cooperation we can expect from the Republicans on health care.”

Schumer then suggested that the vote was an invitation for Democrats to pass health care legislation using a controversial parliamentary maneuver that would pre-empt Republicans from mounting a filibuster to block passage.

Republicans have said such an approach would poison attempts to get a bipartisan deal on one of Obama’s top priorities: legislation reshaping the nation’s health care system to reduce costs and cover some 50 million uninsured Americans.

The top Finance Committee Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, disputed Schumer’s interpretation of the vote.

“There’s no signal. Republicans are at the table on health reform,” said Grassley spokeswoman Jill Gerber.

The White House praised the vote. “Gov. Sebelius strongly shares the president’s commitment to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans and if confirmed, will work to bring down the crippling cost of health care and expand coverage,” said White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said he expected a vote in the full Senate within the week.

Sebelius was Obama’s second pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services after his first choice — former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle — withdrew in February over unpaid taxes.

Sebelius, 60, would oversee a sprawling agency with 65,000 employees, a $750 billion budget and responsibility for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs for the elderly, disabled and poor — among others.

The committee vote came after several Republicans voiced concerns in recent days about Sebelius’ initial failure to disclose to senators the full extent of campaign donations she got from Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor who is under investigation by the Kansas medical board. After the discrepancy became public, Sebelius called it an unintentional oversight and corrected the error.

The only senator to speak about Sebelius at Tuesday’s committee meeting raised a different concern. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., questioned Sebelius’ commitment to ensuring that the government doesn’t try to interfere in Americans’ health care choices.

“I believe in the right of every American to choose the doctor, the hospital, the health plan of his or her choice,” Kyl said. He contended that Sebelius had displayed “insufficient commitment to these principles.”

Sebelius had said she didn’t believe it was the government’s role to dictate health care. But Kyl’s comments underscored GOP concerns as Congress gets to work on the Obama administration’s plans to overhaul the nation’s $2.4 trillion health care system. Some Republicans fear a shift toward government-run health care.

The two Republicans who voted “yes” on Sebelius were Sen. Pat Roberts, from her home state of Kansas, and moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Comments

Andrew Stahmer 4 years, 12 months ago

Wow...a obama cabinet member who cheated on her taxes and decided not to fully disclose all of those pro-abortion contributions.

THAT is change we can BELIEVE in!!

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jumpin_catfish 4 years, 12 months ago

Kathleen Sebelius has not been a great governor in my book but she is probably better qualified in many ways then the guy she's going to work for, not that I would vote for her or Obama.

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couranna1 4 years, 12 months ago

Good for her She will do a good job

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Frank Smith 4 years, 12 months ago

The whine is deafening.

For the non-readers blogging above, Sebelius was confirmed by all "D"s on the Finance Committee plus Snowe, a consistent moderate vote, and Pat Roberts who is probably overjoyed that she's leaving Kansas, she being a thorn in his side.

Sebelius carefully reviewed old tax returns as appointments are given considerable scrutiny (unless we're talking about people such as Bush appointee Jay Bybee) and figured they deserved a second look. Upon consideration, a question arose from her and an amended return was filed with what was a picayune underpayment.

As far as the underreporting, again for the non-readers here, Kathleen reported her direct contributions from Tiller. She didn't report how much he or his PAC had given to her PAC. That wasn't the question asked of her. BFD.

I love it that Republibots are howling about trivial matters when the torture memos have just been released and Alberto Gonzales has been directly fingered for obstructing prosecution and wrist slapping Israeli spies.

The real story here is that the 501(c)3 Family "Research" Council that laughably describes itself as "nonpartisan" and that clown Tony Perkins failed to stop Kathleen's appointment, despite pulling out all the stops.

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bjfisher 4 years, 12 months ago

Democrats love to tax the hell out of you, but they sure hate paying their own taxes. Pathetic isn't it.

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TrooGrit 4 years, 12 months ago

I find it funny that logic (who is a transparent shill for the left) would use vision analogies. Skewed is a point of view, my friends, and if you want to swallow all of the lefts "lies", go blindly with logic. Ration and reason will prevail, however, and all of the lefts leanings will be "righted"! :)

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logicsound04 4 years, 12 months ago

"Repubs looking like they still have some courage and conviction"


Or are stubbornly obstinate.

Guess it depends if you can see things objectively, or if you view the world from a myopic "right = good, left=bad" point of view, huh?

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TrooGrit 4 years, 12 months ago

The Iraq war...was a mistake. Period. We never shoulda, woulda, or coulda. We can't go invading countries, even if they are heartless, soulless, or Godless. Sorry Tom, this moderate Repub is going to disagree with you. It's been an albatross around our necks, financially, morally, and fiscally. Let's move on, and try, oh try to keep spending down, and business starts up. That's what we need.

I do agree that it's very troubling, that Obama nominees fell by the wayside in the vetting process. It doesn't say much to personal responsibility, or moral compass if the leaders of this great nation don't see fit to abid by our laws.

I found it troubling too, about Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska, who didn't think it was wrong for the oil industry to buy him some "home improvements". This sort of bulls**t has to go by the wayside. Play fair, play honest. Let's do it that way.

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Orwell 4 years, 12 months ago

Yankeevet: Paid some time ago. Please try to keep up with the rest of the class.

J-W: Thanks for expanding the story. The actual vote, along with the predictable talking points from knee-jerk opponents of anyone with any view but their own, gave us a more complete picture.

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 12 months ago

And bozo, if what you say is true, and in many instances it was, like of course the Iraq War (that Dems later decided they wished they hadn't voted for) then that makes Dems look sorta weasley and Repubs looking like they still have some courage and conviction. We know however, those two qualities need not be on a resume in order to serve in the Obama administration.

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yankeevet 4 years, 12 months ago

Did she get her taxes paid so she can get this job???

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

Would that it were true, Tom, but, unfortunately, way too many Democrats succumbed to BushCo's demagoguery and voted for all kinds of disastrous legislation.

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 12 months ago

"Republicans are largely irrelevant, so they'll vote against any Democratic measure or nominee just to shore up what little base they have left."

Was 2001-2007:

"Democrats were largely irrelevant, so they'd vote against any Republican measure or nominee just to shore up what little base they had left."

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 12 months ago

Your 111th congress, upholding the intregrity they claimed was so lacking during 8 years of Bush. Tax evasion, stockholder collusion and falsifying donation records? They can live with that.

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TrooGrit 4 years, 12 months ago

feeble, feeble, feeble...you moose lover, you! Please don't accidentally get grazed on!

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feeble 4 years, 12 months ago

Another slap to the face for PalinPAC. It must sting to be so ineffective.

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 12 months ago

She needs to generate some more serious tax problems to make it into the top rank of Barry's regime.

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TrooGrit 4 years, 12 months ago

I actually agree with preebo (for once)...Kathy doesn't always line up with my way of thinking, but I think she's an excellent choice to head up HHS. She's really a smart person, and I respect her a lot. My best wishes to her, and the people of Kansas in finding a suitable replacement.

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METALQ2 4 years, 12 months ago

Great news. There goes a big portion of that $328 million hole.

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preebo 4 years, 12 months ago

My best to her on this extraordinary opportunity. I was initially against her nomination, in favor of Dr. Howard Dean, but I believe that she has some good policy notions for HHS. Kansas' loss is our nations gain.

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Esq2eB 4 years, 12 months ago

Oldcat, it is a page out of Obama's book. Just vote "present". Or not at all. Just look pretty and when things go south you can say "I didn't vote for it!" and when they work out, you can say "This is why I did not vote against it"...and millions of people will blindly follow you into unending hole.

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oldcat 4 years, 12 months ago

Is it true that the Republicans 2 choices for voting are not to vote at all or vote no? A yes vote is not allowed?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

This is just following the same pattern that's becoming well established in this congress. Republicans are largely irrelevant, so they'll vote against any Democratic measure or nominee just to shore up what little base they have left.

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purplesage 4 years, 12 months ago

Ahh -- relief is on the way for Kansas. But, then again, she's hardly gone from the scene, just that the influence will be focused on certain policy for the entire country. Not good.

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Orwell 4 years, 12 months ago

Good, except it's the full Senate that confirms. The committee vote is to recommend confirmation.

And it would have been nice to know the specifics of the "wide margin," and which Senator(s) voted against.

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