Sebelius to Testify Wednesday After a Rocky Month

The HHS secretary’s recent public appearances have not gone well.

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 13: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks during a press conference at the Erie Family Health Center on February 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Sebelius, with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, used the opportunity to promote cooperation between states and the federal government in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Oct. 29, 2013, 12:31 p.m.

Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us is sched­uled to testi­fy Wed­nes­day be­fore the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee about the troubled launch of Health­Care.gov.

Her pre­pared re­marks lay blame on the con­tract­ors hired to design and de­vel­op the on­line fed­er­al ex­change, who poin­ted the fin­ger last week at the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, the HHS agency re­spons­ible for im­ple­ment­ing the ex­change.

Blame game aside, there are nu­mer­ous un­answered ques­tions the sec­ret­ary could face Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing when Amer­ic­ans will know how long it will be be­fore they can re­turn to Health­Care.gov for a smooth sign-up.

The sec­ret­ary had a rough ap­pear­ance on The Daily Show earli­er this month, when Jon Stew­art called her out for dodging ques­tions and re­gur­git­at­ing vague talk­ing points. A re­cent Sat­urday Night Live sketch promp­ted Sen. John Bar­rasso, R-Wyo., to call her “the laugh­ing­stock of Amer­ica.”

The Re­pub­lic­an Party has called for her resig­na­tion, but the White House said she has their “full con­fid­ence.” Se­beli­us has been a con­ten­tious char­ac­ter, des­pite her bi­par­tis­an sup­port when she served as gov­ernor in the red state of Kan­sas.

Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing is ex­pec­ted to an­swer how big of a role she played in the web­site launch of the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture le­gis­lat­ive achieve­ment. It could give Re­pub­lic­ans more am­muni­tion in the fight against her job, or it could look like today’s hear­ing fea­tur­ing law­makers ar­guing about Obama­care while spe­cial guest CMS Ad­min­is­trat­or Mar­ilyn Taven­ner looked on.

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this story gave the in­cor­rect state where Se­beli­us had served as gov­ernor. She was gov­ernor of Kan­sas.

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