— From NBC's Athena Jones and Domenico Montanaro
President Obama has picked Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
to be his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services,
according to an administration official. The pick will be announced
Monday afternoon at the White House, the official said.
Obama offered the position to her Saturday evening, and Sebelius accepted, the official said.
Sebelius, in the middle of her second term as governor, is barred from
running for a third term. Many Democrats had hoped she would run for
the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2010 by Republican Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. Kansas has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1932.
It has been thought for a couple of weeks now that Sebelius was the
leading candidate to fill the HHS role, originally offered to former
Sen. Tom Daschle before he withdrew his name from nomination
after it was revealed he hadn't paid about $140,000 in taxes for a car
and driver provided by an employer.
But Sebelius has faced her own opposition, as anti-abortion rights groups have staunchly lobbied against her nomination, particularly "because she once had a reception attended by a late-term
abortion provider who now faces criminal charges," per the Associated
Press. Sebelius will face some opposition, but not likely enough to derail her confirmation.
The Obama administration likely faces another pending abortion fight, when the president is faced with making his first Supreme Court replacement pick.