Republican senators blocking Sebelius confirmation

The GOP opposes the nominee to head Health and Human Services over her positions on abortion and health care reform.

Published April 23, 2009 5:15PM (EDT)

Looks like we won't have a Health and Human Services secretary for a little while longer. The process of nominating and confirming one was initially slowed by the controversy over and eventual withdrawal of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, President Obama's first choice. Now, Senate Republicans are holding up a vote over the president's current choice, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The Senate Finance Committee signed off on Sebelius' nomination earlier this week, over Republican objections, and sent it to the full body for a vote. Majority Leader Harry Reid attempted to hold that vote Thursday, saying he wanted to allow five hours of debate and then cut it off, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected, according to the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly.

Social conservatives, especially, are opposed to Sebelius' appointment because of her position on abortion and the money she's received from a controversial Kansas abortion provider, George Tiller. That appears to be the driving force behind the Senate GOP's move, but as Connolly notes, others, like Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., are fighting against the appointment because of the Obama administration's health care reform proposals.

A spokesman for Reid says the Democrats are prepared to fight against a filibuster, and that they'll be able to get to the 60 votes necessary to defeat it.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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