Sources: Sebelius Now Refusing To Testify Before Senate Panel

Font Size:

Outgoing Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius is now refusing to testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, a Senate aide told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

Sebelius had originally been set to testify before the subcommittee about the department’s 2015 $70 billion budget request on April 2.

According to another aide, however, several weeks after confirming the hearing date, she requested a date switch with the National Institutes of Health budget hearing on May 7. The committee accommodated her request.

Now, after announcing her resignation on April 11, she is refusing to testify according to the two aides, even though she is still the sitting secretary — remaining at the post until her successor, OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell is confirmed.

“It appears that Sec. Sebelius has unilaterally decided that she is no longer accountable to Congress,” the first aide said.

The other aide explained that HHS has not given the committee any reason for her refusal and that Sebelius has not suggested anyone to testify in her place.

That same aide noted subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin planned to call Sebelius Tuesday about the hearing.

The last time Sebelius appeared in front of a committee was April 10, before news of her resignation broke. She testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the HHS budget.

When asked about Sebelius’ refusal to testify, an HHS spokeswoman responded that the department is in communication with the committee.

“Nothing is confirmed at this time, but we intend to find a mutually agreeable arrangement,” she said in a statement to TheDC.

Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, stressed Wednesday that Sebelius should justify the budget before the committee.

“The Department of Health and Human Services requested nearly $70 billion in taxpayer money for Fiscal Year 2015, and I would expect the head of any U.S. Department to justify their budget request before the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Moran said in a statement. “This Administration vowed to be transparent and work with Congress to establish regular order for appropriations bills, and defending their budget request is part of that pledge.”

*This article has been updated with Moran’s statement. 

Follow Caroline on Twitter