The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the confirmation of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the new Health and Human Services Secretary.
The final tally was 11-5, with Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Pat Roberts of Kansas joining the Democrats.
Before the committee vote, Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-Ariz.) declared his opposition. He raised questions about Gov. Sebelius’ ties to the Kansas late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, who contributed to her campaigns for state office.
Pro-life groups have objected to Sebelius’ nomination because of the contributions. She initially claimed to have received $12,450 from Tiller between 1994 and 2001. On April 14, she reported that she had actually received $39,600.
The Senate Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, expressed concerned about the higher revised total, as did Sen. Mike Enzy (R-Wyo.).
During Sebelius’ 2002 run for Kansas governor, Tiller personally provided $200,000 through his political action committee Pro Kan Do to defeat her opponent, a copy of a letter released by Operation Rescue on April 15 said.
According to The Hill, Sebelius’ confirmation would complete President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Her confirmation by the full Senate could be delayed by a “hold” from any Republican senator. It is believed that all 56 Senate Democrats and two independent Senators who caucus with them will vote to confirm.
Sen. Snowe’s vote, added to the votes of Sen. Roberts and Sen. Sam Brownback, both Kansan Republicans who have endorsed Sebelius’ nomination, would provide the 61 votes needed to overcome any attempt at a filibuster.
Sebelius, a self-described Catholic, is also an advocate of abortion “rights,” and has been asked to refrain from receiving Communion by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the head of her diocese.