With Sebelius Retiring, New HHS Secretary Going Nuclear

April 10th, 2014

Kathleen Sebelius, who presided over the botched launch of HealthCare.gov, and myriad other abject failures during her stint as Secretary at HHS has (at long last) resigned. At the time of the launch of the HealthCare.gov on October 1, many called on the President to fire her. I blogged somewhere (I can’t seem to find it) that there is no way Obama would ever fire her, because it would be virtually impossible to confirm a replacement. The GOP managed to hold up nominees to ATF, NLRB, and CFPB for years. There was NO way that filling the most contentious post in the federal government was going to be easy.

But then, on November 21, Harry Reid went nuclear. And the GOP now will have next-to-no power to stop the confirmation of Sebelius’s replacement, Sylvia Matthew Burwell (get used to seeing her name in a lot of Court cases–maybe even Hobby Lobby).

If there was ever a reason for a minority party to use the filibuster power to learn about a botched government program that was ineptly managed, this is it. Sebelius has stonewalled for months, putting forth half-baked explanations, fuzzy math, and bordering-on-implausible rationals how NO ONE knew the web site was going to work. My favorite was when she insisted that HealthCare.gov never crashed, as the monitors in the committee room showed that the site was down. It had a real Baghdad Bob feel to it. I hope Burwell will be candid about these important issues, but in truth, she will only need to bear it through the committee hearing, and Reid will bring it to a vote. What a wasted opportunity to learn, once and for all, what happened.

The name Sebelius will be burned in the minds of constitutional law students for generations to come. NFIB v. Sebelius. The “Health Care Cases” hasn’t really caught on. So that, and not HealthCare.gov will be her legacy.