Senate Republican Support Wavers on Sebelius After Veto on Kansas Limit for Late-Term Abortion
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) likely will be confirmed as HHS secretary with the support of all 56 Democratic senators, two independents and Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine), despite "wavering" Republican support after her April 23 veto of a bill from the Kansas Legislature that would have limited late-term abortions, CQ Today reports. According to CQ Today, Sebelius' veto "has proved ill-timed in terms of her confirmation." CQ Today reports that Kansas' Republican-controlled Legislature waited to send the bill to Sebelius' desk, forcing her to act on it in the middle of her confirmation process.
Some Senate Republicans were concerned with Sebelius' stance on abortion but were prepared to support her; however, they now are reconsidering, CQ Today reports. Among the Republican senators who were considered supporters of Sebelius but who might now be reconsidering are Sens. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Arlen Specter (Pa.) (Wayne/Armstrong, CQ Today, 4/24).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Republicans last week reached an agreement on the Sebelius vote, under which eight hours of debate will start at 10 a.m. on April 28. The agreement also stipulates that Sebelius' confirmation will require 60 votes instead of a simple majority (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 4/24). According to CQ Today, with some Republican senators reconsidering, it could be a "far closer confirmation vote than she or President Obama would like" (Wayne/Armstrong, CQ Today, 4/24).
CQ Today on Friday examined the debate in Congress over the delay in confirming Obama's nominees. According to CQ Today, Senate Republicans have been delaying a number of nominees, including Sebelius, because of the difficulty amending legislation due to their limited numbers. In addition, the delays have come in an effort to highlight key policy disputes over contentious issues, CQ Today reports. Democrats have countered that the delays have affected the Senate's ability to act on legislative priorities, including health care reform (Jansen, CQ Today, 4/24).