Sebelius Clears Senate Hurdle to Get HHS OK

April 28, 2009 ( - Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has won Senate confirmation to serve as the nation's health and human services secretary.

The 65-31 vote came after Democrats urged quick action so that Sebelius could get to work leading the federal response to the swine flu outbreak (see  Keeping Up With the Swine Flu ).   Sixty votes were required to approve President Barack Obama’s nominee (see  Another Cabinet Appointment, Another Tax Issue ).

Sebelius was the final Obama Cabinet pick awaiting confirmation.  

Sebelius would be the first of 20 HHS officials requiring Senate approval, according to the Associated Press. The Senate hasn’t acted on Obama’s nominees for deputy HHS secretary or commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Obama hasn’t even nominated people for other key jobs, including surgeon general and assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

The process suffered a setback when Obama’s first pick for HHS secretary, former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, withdrew in February over unpaid taxes (see  Daschle Drops Out ).