By Elise Viebeck and Russell Berman - 10/21/13 06:01 PM EDT
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has agreed to testify to Congress on ObamaCare's botched rollout soon — but not this week.
Sebelius said she has a conflict that will prevent her from testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, as Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other Republicans are demanding.
HHS press secretary Joanne Peters said the agency is working with House Republicans to find a “mutually agreeable date in the near future.”
Boehner on Monday ripped into Sebelius, arguing she should testify to give "straight answers" to the public on the problems with ObamaCare's rollout.
He also criticized comments made Monday by President Obama, who said he too was frustrated that people can't enroll in ObamaCare because of problems with its website.
“If the president is frustrated by the mounting failures of his health care law, it wasn’t apparent today,” Boehner said in a statement responding to Obama’s comments. “Americans are looking for accountability, but what the president offered today was little more than self-congratulation. Instead of answers, we got well-worn talking points. Instead of explanations, we got excuses.”
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Obama acknowledged “glitches” and “kinks” in the healthcare.gov website, but he defended the law and promoted success stories of people who had signed up for new insurance.
In the first three weeks of enrollment, many people have been unable to navigate the website and complete the enrollment process, and Republicans have criticized the administration for not providing full statistics of how many people have been able to sign up.
“Either the president doesn’t grasp the scale of the law’s failures or he doesn’t believe Americans deserve straight answers,” Boehner said.
“Secretary Sebelius must change her mind and appear at this week’s hearing in the House,” Boehner said. “With more than one trillion taxpayer dollars being spent on a completely defective program, Congress is going to get to the bottom of this debacle.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said HHS officials including Sebelius "are willing to testify and will be willing in the future."
Carney sidestepped questions about whether the White House would ask Sebelius to testify, instead reiterating that the department had previously "engaged with and testified before Congress on [Affordable Care Act] issues."
Other GOP officials, including the chairman of the Republican National Committee, have called for Sebelius to resign or be fired because of the rocky rollout of ObamaCare's exchanges.
—This story was posted at 1:29 p.m. and was updated at 2:01 p.m.