Kathleen Sebelius

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Kathleen Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius.jpg
44th Governor of Kansas
From: January 13, 2003 – April 28, 2009
Predecessor Bill Graves
Successor Mark Parkinson
21st United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
From: April 28, 2009 – June 9, 2014
President Barack Hussein Obama
Predecessor Mike Leavitt
Successor Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Gary Sebelius
Religion Roman Catholic

Kathleen Sebelius (born 1948) was the 21st Health and Human Services secretary, being confirmed by the Senate on April 29, 2009 by a vote of 65-31.[1] Her first challenge as secretary was dealing with an emerging global swine flu epidemic.

Political career

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%.

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.[2]

Following the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, on April 11, 2014, Sebelius announced her resignation.[3] Sebelius remains as Secretary until OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell can be confirmed as her successor.


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.[4] 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.[5] 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.

She decided she didn't have to follow the 1996 welfare reform law, arguing that she should be allowed to waive work requirements "subject only to her opinion". [1]


Sarah Murnaghan lung transplant denial

In 2013, ten year-old Sarah Murnaghan was suffering from cystic fibrosis and her parents were seeking her a lung transplant, but such was only allowed to adolescents 12 years old and above.[6] Her parents challenged the case, but Kathleen Sebelius refused to give an exception.[7] Sebelius was later harshly criticized for her bureaucratic stance on the matter, many dubbing it as a "death panel".[8]

Personal life

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.