Senate to vote on Sebelius for HHS secretary later this month

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Several Republican senators have objected to an immediate vote on the nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As a result, the Senate likely will not vote on the nomination until later this month.

The Senate Finance Committee confirmed Sebelius late last week. In response to healthcare and healthcare reform-related questions from the committee, Sebelius said she believe all U.S. residents should be insured. She also said she supports a sound public insurance option. The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which plays a major role in the regulation of long-term care facilities.

Sebelius said she is open to the possibility of a budget reconciliation process as a way to pass healthcare overhaul legislation. Such a process would require 51 votes to avoid filibuster as opposed to the usual 60. Republicans oppose such an approach. As secretary, she would emphasize preventative medicine, she said. Committee members did not ask her about her repayment of about $7,000 in back taxes resulting from accounting errors.