An HHS official confirmed to The Daily Beast that Sebelius, the long-embattledsecretary will announce her resignation on Friday. Sebelius, who has been under withering scrutiny for her role overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is expected to be succeeded by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the chief of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Sebelius’s tenure has been rocky from the start. The former Kansas governor wasn’t Obama’s first choice for the position—that was former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Instead, she was only nominated after Daschle was forced to step aside because of tax issues, which presented political obstacles to his confirmation. Since then, Sebelius, who was a popular bipartisan leader in traditionally Republican Kansas, has become a political lightning rod and has taken much of the blame for the initial failures of healthcare.gov. Obama was forced to defend her in an interview with NBC News in November 2013, saying“Kathleen Sebelius doesn’t write code. She wasn’t our IT person.”
Her resignation does come at a high point for Sebelius. Just hours before word of her resignation leaked, she testified on Capitol Hill that 7.5 million Americans had signed up for health insurance on federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, a number that exceeds the White House’s goal of 7 million enrollments. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Tom Daschle was full of praise for Sebelius's efforts to implement the highly controversial legislation. "I think Kathleen Sebelius deserves a good deal of credit where we are today," said Daschle. "She provided outstanding leadership." In his opinion, the outgoing HHS Secretary had been "unfairly critcized often for her work and her leadership."
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