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McConnell Objects to Quick Vote on Sebelius

Senate Republicans objected to moving forward on a handful of President Barack Obama’s nominees on Thursday, including his pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

The GOP’s move means the Senate is unlikely to vote until next week to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary.

In a floor exchange during morning business, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to move to debate on the Sebelius nomination, as well as David Hayes for deputy secretary of the Interior Department and Thomas Strickland for assistant secretary for fish and wildlife at Interior.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected, however. And in the case of Sebelius, McConnell maintained that Members needed more time to consider the nomination.

Sebelius, a two-term Democratic governor from Kansas, was approved by the Finance Committee Wednesday on a divided 15-8 vote. Home state colleague Sen. Pat Roberts (R) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) were the only Republicans to vote for the nomination.

“It was fairly contentious. Not a party-line vote, but a number of Members on my side opposed the nomination,— McConnell noted. “So at least for today I’m not able to enter into a consent agreement.—

Sebelius also has the support of Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback and is expected to ultimately win the Senate’s nod. If Reid cannot reach a time agreement with Republicans, Reid will likely file a procedural motion to move ahead, the Majority Leader’s spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) had previously held up Strickland’s nomination, but has since dropped his opposition. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved that nomination on April 1 on a voice vote. Reid is currently trying to reach a time agreement on the Strickland and Hayes nominations as well, Lachapelle said.

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