Now that the enrollment period for Obamacare is over, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning her cabinet post to be replaced by Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell.
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.
Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.
The president is hoping that Ms. Burwell, 48, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy, will bring an intense focus and management acumen to the department. The budget office, which she has overseen since April of last year, is deeply involved in developing and carrying out health care policy.
“The president wants to make sure we have a proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there, which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia,” said Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff.\
Last month, Ms. Sebelius approached Mr. Obama and began a series of conversations about her future, Mr. McDonough said. The secretary told the president that the March 31 deadline for sign-ups under the health care law — and rising enrollment numbers — provided an opportunity for change, and that he would be best served by someone who was not the target of so much political ire, Mr. McDonough said.
Nobody should be surprised by this. Somebody had to pay for the problems with the website in October and November, and it was clear with Sebelius being completely out of the loop in the last several weeks that the President wasn't going to force her out, but those conversations had to have included the suggestion that she consider stepping down, and of course the time to line up a replacement. Also, I can't imagine Sebelius wanting to stick around, considering how much she's been savaged by the left as well as the right.
That now leaves a confirmation battle for Burwell, and it still means that with the new Senate rules, there needs to be 51 votes. That may or may not actually happen given the post of Surgeon General still has yet to be filled, so it won't be a slam dunk in an election year either.
The reaction of course is exactly what you'd expect.
#sebelius finally resigned. Why not her boss? Doesn't "the buck stop here"? http://t.co/YXD1Luy5dx
— Roger Simon (@rogerlsimon) April 11, 2014
Because 10 million fewer uninsured is something the President should resign over.