GOP senator rails against Sebelius absence in hearing

GOP senator rails against Sebelius absence in hearing
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A Republican senator railed against Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE Wednesday for not appearing at an appropriations subcommittee hearing on her department's budget.

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranPompeo pressed on possible Senate run by Kansas media Jerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals 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.

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"My colleagues tell me that no one can remember a cabinet secretary not appearing before this subcommittee," Moran said. "I want to make clear from my perspective that the Appropriations Committee is deserving of the respect of a cabinet secretary."

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 HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states 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.