A Republican senator railed against Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusSebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' Obama's health secretary to be first female president of American University Leaked email: Podesta pushed Tom Steyer for Obama’s Cabinet MORE Wednesday for not appearing at an appropriations subcommittee hearing on her department's budget.
Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranGOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R), the subcommittee's ranking member, spent five minutes criticizing Sebelius's absence at the start of the hearing. He represents Kansas, where Sebelius was governor prior to her tenure at HHS.
He continued, "I would expect the head of any department to appear before the committee … I think [Sebelius] should be here and I'm disappointed she declined to appear before our panel today."
The subcommittee chairman, Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), defended Sebelius and said she was never formally invited to testify on Wednesday. He also noted that Sebelius has announced she will resign from HHS once her replacement is confirmed.
"Budget hearings, these kinds of budget hearings, look forward. They look at what is coming next year. Secretary Sebelius is not going to be here next year," Harkin said.
HHS division heads, including a top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, attended the hearing as witnesses. Harkin said this was his intention after Sebelius announced her resignation.
The decision means that Sebelius is almost guaranteed not to face lawmakers as a witness before she leaves office. Republicans have previously jumped at opportunities to grill her about ObamaCare's rollout.