By Jonathan Easley - 04/11/14 11:09 AM EDT
Congressional Republicans are kicking ObamaCare, not Kathleen Sebelius, on her way out the door.
The GOP has focused its statements surrounding the Health and Human Services secretary’s exit on the problems of the healthcare law.
“I thank Secretary Sebelius for her service,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. “She had an impossible task: nobody can make Obamacare work.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Sebelius had “one of the toughest jobs in Washington” as the person charged with implementing “a flawed law that continues to fall woefully short of its promises to the American people.”
“While we haven’t always agreed, Secretary Sebelius did the best she could during the tumultuous and volatile rollout of the law,” he said. “I thank her for her service and wish her and her family all the best in their future endeavors.”
Even House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who once accused Sebelius of providing “false and misleading” testimony to Congress about ObamaCare and threatened to open a perjury investigation, declined to pile on the secretary’s resignation.
“Kathleen Sebelius had a supremely difficult job implementing a law as unpopular and unwieldy as ObamaCare,” he said in a statement. “Her tenure as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services may be at an end, but Americans will be dealing with the repercussions of the president's health law for a very long time."
That’s a markedly different tone than most Republicans have been striking for the last six months, when they called Sebelius and her staff in front of dozens of Congressional panels to admonish the government officials for their ineptitude.
Republicans are committed to making ObamaCare the primary issue in the 2014 midterm elections, and they appear to be holding up the former Kansas governor as just another healthcare law casualty.
President Obama intends to replace Sebelius with Sylvia Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The Senate confirmed Burwell for her current position in a 96-0 vote, and because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Senate Democrats have changed the Senate's filibuster rules, Democrats only need a bare majority to push her confirmation through.
Republican statements about Sebelius indicate they’ll focus their fire on the healthcare law, rather than the incoming Health and Human Services secretary.
“The next HHS secretary will inherit a mess — Americans facing rising costs, families losing their doctors, and an economy weighed down by intrusive regulations,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
“No matter who is in charge of HHS, ObamaCare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans. It's time for President Obama to admit that Democrats' signature law is a failure and heed Republican calls for patient-centered healthcare reform.”