Just in the last hour, the New York Times reports that Kathleen Sebelius will resign as Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Obama plans to nominate Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Matthews Burwell as her successor.
The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.Sebelius submitted her resignation last week after a month of conversations about her future. She apparently concluded that it was best that she leave in hopes of diffusing the partisan sniping over the health care law.
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.
Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.
The president is hoping that Ms. Burwell, 48, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy, will bring an intense focus and management acumen to the department. The budget office, which she has overseen since April of last year, is deeply involved in developing and carrying out health care policy.
It's too early to tell how Burwell's confirmation hearings will go. She was, however, confirmed unanimously to head OMB in 2013.