Kathleen Sebelius Survives Hearing by Apologizing Frequently, Smiling at Grandstanders

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 30 2013 12:52 PM

Kathleen Sebelius Survives Hearing by Apologizing Frequently, Smiling at Grandstanders

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She will survive.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The much-anticipated grilling of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, by the House's Energy and Commerce Committee, happened roughly a week later than Republicans had wanted.* The extra time changed the focus of the hearing, from all about healthcare.gov glitches to a cocktail of glitch queries and "if you like your plan, you can keep it" fact-checking. The secretary thumbed the Cabinet Secretary's Little Book of Apologies: She was "frustrated and disappointed" by implementation issues, she "took responsibility for the debacle," and so on. Republicans completey refrained from calling on her to quit.

But they did try to bring back the "fairness" attack. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner started a wave of questions to Sebelius about why she didn't have the integrity to get on the exchange herself, if she was so great.*

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Missouri Rep. Billy Long, a former auctioneer who's built like a kettlebell, did the same, with less aplomb. "If you can, will you?" he asked. "Yes or no? Yes or no?"

Sebelius, looking bored, explained that she couldn't get on the exchange as she had insurance already (not quite true, she simply couldn't get the subsidies that other enrollees would get) and that D.C. had its own exchange, anyway.

*Correction: Oct. 30, 2013: This post originally misidentified the House Energy and Commerce Committee as the House Energy and Oversight Committee. Additionally, Rep. Cory Gardner's last name was misspelled.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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