The Senate voted 65-31 Tuesday evening to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services, filling the last vacant Cabinet post in Barack Obama’s administration.
Sebelius will take over the agency as it responds to worldwide panic over swine flu, which has sickened more than 60 in the United States and possibly more than 200 in Mexico. None of HHS’ 18 agencies has political leadership in place, with career employees and temporary leaders steering the agencies.
Sebelius, the Democratic governor of Kansas, faced considerable opposition from Republicans who were displeased with her pro-choice views. They also criticized her failure to timely disclose accepting donations from George Tiller, a prominent Kansas doctor who performs late-term abortions.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was President Barack Obama’s first choice to lead HHS. He stepped down from consideration in February after revelations that he owed nearly $144,000 in back taxes for use of a car and driver.