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Congress: Budget deal, Sebelius

"House and Senate Democrats reached a budget deal on Monday night that will allow both chambers to vote on budget resolutions this week," The Hill reports. "Budget negotiators, after hours of negotiations on Monday, put finishing touches on the resolution, which Democrats hope to approve by President Obama's 100th day in office Wednesday."

The AP says the Senate is on the verge of confirming Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Obama's HHS secretary. "Debate is set to begin Tuesday morning, with a vote anticipated in the afternoon… Sebelius is expected to get the 60 votes needed in the Democratic-led Senate, though the vote could be close. Anti-abortion groups have been lobbying Republican senators to vote against her."

"If she's confirmed, Sebelius would have an immediate challenge because of the swine flu outbreak in the U.S. She also would be working without much of a team. The Senate hasn't acted on the nominees for deputy HHS secretary or commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration." 

The Wall Street Journal: "Republican critics have cited campaign contributions Ms. Sebelius received from a Kansas doctor who performs abortions. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele last week called on President Barack Obama to withdraw her nomination unless she answered more questions about the issue."  

The Kansas City Star wonders whether conservative GOP Sen. Sam Brownback will vote for Sebelius -- as he once was expected to do. "Now, as the Sebelius nomination nears a final vote later today, Brownback's support -- considered a crucial test by conservatives opposed to Sebelius -- appears to have unofficially softened. His office Monday declined to reveal how the staunchly anti-abortion Republican will vote, but last week Brownback told a reporter Sebelius' recent veto of new abortion regulations made it 'harder and harder' for him to vote yes on the Democrat's nomination."