urging a quick vote on the Kansas governor as Congress and the Obama administration move ahead on health-care reform and seek to address the swine flu outbreak.
By Shailagh Murray, The Senate began debate this morning on the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services, with Democrats
“It is essential for the health of the nation that President Obama has in place, and the nation has in place, a strong secretary of HHS to make sure our federal efforts on this potential pandemic are able to coordinate,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Sebelius is the final member of President Obama’s Cabinet to be confirmed, and was appointed after former senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) withdrew from consideration following questions about his tax returns.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is leading the Senate’s health-care reform effort, cited the governor’s success in a Republican state as vital experience to building support for the legislation across party lines. “Governor Sebelius’ record shows that she approaches problems from all sides. She is prepared to try creative solutions. She is forward-thinking. She’s willing to work with everyone,” Baucus said on the House floor.
A vote on the nomination is expected later this afternoon. Sebelius is expected to gain the 60 votes needed for passage, despite fierce opposition from conservative Republicans who have criticized her support for abortion rights and ties to a Wichita doctor who performs abortions, and who has contributed to her political campaigns.