Sebelius Vote Coming As Early as Tuesday
Updated 11:53 a.m.
By Ceci Connolly
The Senate could vote as early as Tuesday on the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) to be secretary of health and human services, according to an agreement reached Thursday night.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that up to eight hours of debate on her nomination is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The two parties agreed that Sebelius will need 60 votes for confirmation.
At the urging of conservative religious groups, some Senate Republicans have opposed Sebelius because of her support for abortion rights. However, one of her strongest supporters has been a fellow Kansan, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who is an ardent opponent of abortion. The Senate Finance Committee endorsed her selection on a vote of 15-8.
The split vote in committee was "based more on abortion" than a partisan divide over broader health reform issues, Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Friday morning. The ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, told Baucus that his opposition to Sebelius should "in no way be interpreted about health care reform," Baucus added.
If the Senate approves her nomination, Sebelius will become the final member of President Obama's Cabinet to be confirmed.
The lack of a health secretary has slowed progress filling several other critical posts. Obama has yet to fill the top slots at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, his first choice for surgeon general, CNN personality Sanjay Gupta, withdrew from consideration.
Posted at 11:53 AM ET on Apr 24, 2009
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