By Elise Viebeck - 10/18/13 09:50 PM EDT
Republicans are training their sights on Kathleen Sebelius as they prepare to hammer ObamaCare's rocky rollout.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is under intense scrutiny as ObamaCare's enrollment system continues to face severe problems.
The online portal where millions are meant to sign up for health insurance remains only semi-functional three weeks after its debut.
And HHS is not saying how many people have successfully signed up for coverage, leading many to conclude the figures have been disappointing.
Until this week, Washington's attention had been focused for a month on what appeared to be an imminent fiscal crisis.
The troubled rollout of Obama's signature healthcare law would have dominated headlines at any other time.
But now that the government has reopened and the debt ceiling has been raised, Republicans are ready to attack the law and its chief implementer, Sebelius.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) was the first of several GOP lawmakers to call for her ouster last week.
"Americans are tired of the Sebelius spin," Roberts said in a statement.
"They can see ObamaCare has failed them. We need a Secretary who can admit when enough is enough."
Next Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will host Congress's first hearing on the rollout since the exchanges debuted.
The panel has asked Sebelius to testify, but so far, she has declined.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is scheduled to comment Friday night on both the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.
"This is wholly unacceptable," Upton said in a statement, noting that Sebelius recently appeared on Comedy Central to promote ObamaCare.
"Secretary Sebelius had time for [The Daily Show host] Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress," Upton said.
Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas, has entered the media spotlight for brief moments since the exchanges debuted.
She appeared at the White House and in television interviews on Oct. 1 to promote healthcare.gov and push back on initial reports of the site's problems.
The next week, she spoke with Stewart in a much-maligned interview on The Daily Show.
"How many have signed up thus far? Stewart asked.
“Fully enrolled, I can’t tell you. I don’t know,” Sebelius said.
"We’ve been taking applications on the Web, on the phone, but I can tell you not only lots of Web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created.”
"It started a little rockier than we’d like, but it’s getting better by the day," she added.
Stewart mocked Sebelius for the site's problems.
“I’m going to attempt to download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to sign up for ObamaCare, and we’ll see which happens first," he said.
The extent of the exchanges' problems is still unknown since only a small trickle of users has completed the enrollment process.
This week, insurers reportedly encountered duplicate enrollments, misreported family members and empty data fields in completed applications.
These errors were attributed to flaws in the design of the online enrollment system, which does not easily allow users to fix their mistakes.
Republicans are working to shine a spotlight on the troubled ObamaCare system now that the fight over government funding and the debt ceiling is over.
While Democrats have yet to join Republicans in calling for Sebelius to step aside, some former administration officials say heads should roll at her department.
“When they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people who were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work,” former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC.
“We knew there were going to be some glitches. But these are glitches that go, quite frankly, way beyond the pale of what should be expected.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday rejected calls for Sebelius's resignation while noting that President Obama is “not happy” with the site’s debut.
"The accountability the president seeks today is the accountability that comes from those who are working on implementation," Carney told reporters.