President Obama's cabinet is nearly complete after the Senate Finance Committee voted this morning to send to the full Senate the nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as health and human services secretary.
The vote was 15-8, a division caused in part by displeasure among some GOP senators about Sebelius' inaccurate response to the committee about how much campaign cash she received from George Tiller, a Wichita abortion doctor who is under investigation by Kansas' medical board over late-term procedures he performed.
According to the Associated Press, Sebelius told the committee that Tiller, who was acquitted of criminal charges involving the late-term abortions, had given her $12,450 between 1994 and 2001. But the AP found that Tiller and his abortion clinic donated an additional $23,000 between 2000 and 2002 to a political action committee Sebelius established to raise money for fellow Democrats. Sebelius apologized and called it an oversight.
Only two of 10 Republicans on the committee supported Sebelius. They were Pat Roberts from her home state of Kansas, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
Obama's initial pick for the post, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, withdrew after tax discrepancies arose that forced him to pay more than $100,000 in back taxes and penalties. Sebelius had her own tax problems, acknowledging mistakes in three years of tax returns and paying more than $7,000 in back taxes to fix improper deductions.
The president wanted Daschle to lead a healthcare overhaul by also leading a new White House office of healthcare reform, but after his nomination foundered, Obama split the two jobs. Still, Sebelius will play a key role in remaking the health system
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.