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Divided Senate panel approves HHS nominee Sebelius
|Last Edited||Scott³ Apr 22, 2009 11:39am|
|Media||Newspaper - Washington Post|
|News Date||Tuesday, April 21, 2009 05:35:00 PM UTC0:0|
"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."
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