Eric Cantor’s Back-Handed Compliment for Sebelius

The House majority leader was alone among Republicans in his “kind words” for the HHS secretary following her resignation.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, left, and Speaker John Boehner listen as Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaks to the press on Thursday, July 28, 2011.
National Journal
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Sophie Novack
April 10, 2014, 4:07 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans have fi­nally got­ten what they’ve de­man­ded since the dis­astrous launch of Health­Care.gov: the resig­na­tion of Obama­care’s front wo­man.

But while many top Re­pub­lic­ans op­ted for a Twit­ter vic­tory dance, House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor took a dif­fer­ent tack — one that sim­ul­tan­eously offered a back­han­ded com­pli­ment to the out­go­ing sec­ret­ary and pre­viewed the GOP’s line of at­tack in weeks to come.

That sen­ti­ment is a pre­view of what the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has in store as it asks the Sen­ate to con­firm the pres­id­ent’s in­ten­ded re­place­ment for Se­beli­us: cur­rent Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget Dir­ect­or Sylvia Math­ews Bur­well.

By train­ing his ire on the law and spar­ing Se­beli­us, Can­tor sug­ges­ted the resig­na­tion will do noth­ing to di­min­ish Re­pub­lic­an re­solve to block the Af­ford­bale Care Act’s im­ple­ment­a­tion at every turn.

And so Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans will likely fight tooth and nail to block the nom­in­ee, though their ef­forts to do so will be blun­ted by Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id’s de­cision in 2013 to in­voke a “nuc­le­ar op­tion” that gives Demo­crats more au­thor­ity to push through nom­in­ees — with or without bi­par­tis­an co­oper­a­tion.

For many Re­pub­lic­ans, however, that battle could wait, and Thursday was a time for part­ing shots at the out­go­ing sec­ret­ary.

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