Monday, April 27, 2009

Public Health Emergency, No Health and Human Services Secretary

HHS, Flu, AbortionWhy is it that President Obama hasn't filled the top spot of the government agency responsible for handling an outbreak such as the recent threat posed by swine flu? Well, it isn't because Obama hasn't nominated someone. (Image: The Huffington Post) The nomination of Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services Secretary -- following the failed nomination of Tom Daschle -- has been on hold. The Republicans in the Senate have been filibustering the nomination, refusing to allow the nomination to go to vote. Why?

Well, if you were expecting a fresh new reason, you'll be disappointed. The reason there is no Health and Human Services Secretary during the middle of a public health emergency is because she supports abortion. To be more specific, the Republicans believe she supports "late-term" abortion and takes money from abortion doctors.

Now, neither of these claims is more than a matter of talking points. Sebelius received donations to her campaigns totaling about $12,000 over 7 years and about double that to her political action committee later from said abortion doctors. This is not a very big number for a politician in America, especially over such a span of time. The late-term abortion claims enter muddy water over certain comments and different interpretations, but she is certainly a pro-choice politician.

Fortunately, several moderate GOP members are likely to vote to move forward with a vote on Tuesday in spite of hard-liners like Mitch McConnell who doesn't see how the flu outbreak factors in to the need for an HHS Secretary. Many expect Sebelius to be confirmed in spite of the "same old issues" causing partisan bickering and stone-walling by the GOP.

Assuming that this goes through, the HHS department has 14 other top spots vacant. Hopefully the same shenanigans don't continue to disrupt a time of genuine need.