|44th Governor of Kansas|
From: January 13, 2003-April 28, 2009
|21st United States Secretary of Health and Human Services|
From: April 28, 2009-Present
|President||Barack Hussein Obama|
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
Kathleen Sebelius (born 1948) won Senate confirmation as Health and Human Services secretary on April 29, 2009 by a vote of 65-31. Her first challenge was dealing with an emerging global swine flu epidemic.
Sebelius, a Democrat, was the popular governor of Kansas, a heavily Republican state. She was the chairwoman of the Democratic Governors' Association. She defeated Republican challenger Jim Barnett in 2006. Her name came up occasionally as a possible running mate to a 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, but that position was given to Joe Biden. Previously she served for eight years in the state legislature (1986-94), then for eight years was Kansas Insurance Commissioner (1994-2002) before being elected governor in 2002 (by 53% to 46%) and reelected in 2006 by 58% to 40%.
Sibelius is the daughter of John Gilligan, a prominent Democratic congressman and governor from Ohio. She met Gary Sibelius in Washington; he was the son of a Kansas Congressman.
As governor she stressed efficiency and reducing waste and fat in the state budget, claiming $1 billion in savings. Despite inheriting a billion-dollar deficit, she balanced the state budget in her first year in office without raising taxes or cutting funding for education. In following years she sharply increased school spending in compliance with court orders. Time magazine ranked her as one of the country's five best governors in 2005.
Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, is considered pro-business, pro-military and fiscally conservative. She says abortion is wrong but vetoed legislation to restrict abortion clinics. and Kansas has long had an active abortion and partial birth abortion industry. Sebelius has also opposed the right to bear arms in the form of concealed-carry laws. She supported president Bush on Iraq and visited Kansas troops there and in Afghanistan to show her support. Also, more recently, she has vocally opposed the construction of a proposed coal plant in western Kansas that would provide many jobs in a portion of the state that has suffered from economic problems as of late.
By viewing the work requirements as optional, subject to her waiver