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UPDATE: President announces Sebelius resignation, successor

By: Associated Press / ABC News - Email
By: Associated Press / ABC News - Email
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President Barack Obama says he

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he's nominating his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary.

The Cabinet shuffle lets President Obama put a new face on his new health care law.

The move comes more than a week after the close of sign-ups for insurance coverage on the law.

After a rocky start that Sebelius was blamed for, the administration rebounded strongly to exceed expectations by enrolling 7.1 million people by the March 31 deadline.

Burwell's nomination requires Senate confirmation.


Previous ABC News story:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will announce Friday she is stepping down, ABC News reports.

The president will nominate Budget Director Sylvia Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her.

Sebelius approached President Obama about a month ago and asked to step down after the health care sign-up numbers were released, two senior administration officials and a confidante of Sebelius' told ABC News.

The White House always worried about finding someone to win confirmation at HHS, but Burwell was overwhelmingly confirmed as budget director with a vote of 96-0 about a year ago.

Earlier today Sebelius was on Capitol Hill to announce that 400,000 additional people have chosen insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges as of this week, raising the total number of enrollees to approximately 7.5 million.

“As of this week, 400,000 additional Americans have signed up and we expect that number to continue to grow,” Sebelius said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday.

Last week, the administration announced 7.1 million people had enrolled as of April 1.

“Even though Secretary Sebelius will be gone, every promise the President made about Obamacare – if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; health care costs will be lowered; and if you like your health plan you can keep it – will remain broken," said Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. "Changing the Secretary won’t change the problem – a disaster is still a disaster.”

Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas, was among Obama's earliest supporters back in 2008. Her endorsement -- over Hillary Clinton -- came at a critical time in his first race for the White House.

But the president, while always fond of Sebelius, was furious at the rollout of the health care web site. He placed blame internally on her, aides said, among others.

Shortly after news of Sebelius’ resignation broke, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus took the opportunity to predict “that there are more problems on the way” for the president’s signature health care reform law.

“The next HHS Secretary will inherit a mess -- Americans facing rising costs, families losing their doctors, and an economy weighed down by intrusive regulations,” Priebus said in a statement. “No matter who is in charge of HHS, ObamaCare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans.”

Sebelius served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987-1995, as Kansas Insurance Commissioner from 1995-2003, and as governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, at which time she was named secretary of Health and Human Services.


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