President Obama took another health care victory lap Friday while announcing the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Obama praised Sebelius in a Rose Garden address, as he formally nominated budget chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the next HHS secretary.
Sebelius led HHS through the implementation of the president’s signature health law, and faced tough criticism after the online portal to sign up for the new health plans struggled to get off the ground last fall.
But the atmosphere Friday was celebratory of Sebelius’s time in office, and the president touted her success in turning around HealthCare.gov and getting 7.5 million people signed up for coverage.
“Yes, we lost the first quarter of the open enrollment period because of the problems with HealthCare.go — and they were problems. But under Kathleen’s leadership, her team and HHS turned the corner.”¦ The final score speaks for itself,” Obama said.
Sebelius said she was proud of the “tremendous progress” the department has made despite the legal and legislative battles the law has faced over the past four years.
“I got to be a leader of HHS during these most historic times,” Sebelius said. “We are on the front lines of a long overdue national change, fixing a broken health system.
“I knew it wouldn’t be easy. There’s a reason that no earlier president was successful in passing health reform.”
Burwell is inheriting the department as challenges remain heading into the law’s second year. Some consumers are still trying to get signed up, and HealthCare.gov isn’t out of the red, with some repairs remaining.
The White House has expressed confidence in Burwell as a manager and leader to take the helm during the health law’s next phase. Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in an interview with The New York Times that the president selected Burwell because she is “a proven manager and relentless implementer.” Burwell has served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget for a year.
Sebelius is expected to remain with the department during the transition period. Burwell must be confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate, which departs today for spring recess and is not scheduled to return until April 28.
It’s unclear whether Burwell will face strong opposition from Republicans, who have had issues with several other nominees this year.
But Burwell sailed through the Senate last year on a 96-0 vote to become head of OMB, and she has already received the support of some conservative senators, such as Republican John McCain of Arizona, who tweeted his congratulations following reports late Thursday that she was the president’s next pick.
What We're Following See More »
Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton this week in a prime-time speech. "The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent. But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated."
"The Democratic Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major shift in the superdelegate system Saturday night after a deal was reached between" the Clinton and Sanders camps. "The committee approved nearly unanimously an amendment that preserves the existing superdelegate role for elected U.S. lawmakers and governors, but will bind the remaining superdelegates — roughly two-thirds — to primary and caucus results."
"After hours of private talks," Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed to step down as chair of the Democratic National Committee after the convention ends. In the wake of the convention intrigue, Hillary Clinton announced she's making Wasserman Schultz "the honorary chair of her campaign's 50-state program."
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz "will not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week," and is under increasing pressure to resign. The DNC Rules Committee on Saturday named Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge as "permanent chair of the convention." At issue: internal DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks that show how "the DNC favored Clinton during the primary and tried to take down Bernie Sanders by questioning his religion."
- A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
- A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
- And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.