By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The Senate Finance Committee approved Kathleen Sebelius's nomination to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services today, but antiabortion forces seized on the split 15-to-8 committee vote to claim growing Republican opposition to Sebelius over her ties to late-term abortion provider George Tiller. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins just released this statement:
"The divided committee vote on Gov. Sebelius's nomination reflects growing grassroots opposition to Gov. Sebelius as questions continue to mount regarding her failure to disclose deep financial ties to late-term abortionist George Tiller. In the last few days, our supporters have sent nearly 40,000 emails to the Senate urging opposition to the Sebelius nomination . . . ."
But the Kansas City Star reports that the only outspoken opposition to Sebelius from a member of the Senate Finance Committee had nothing to do with abortion:
The only vocal objection came from Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona who said he worried that Sebelius would be too quick to put limits on patient care. Kyl said Sebelius had a "insufficient commitment" to the right of Americans to choose their own doctor and health care plan.
This isn't the first instance of GOP sheepishness when it comes to confronting Sebelius on abortion. Republicans on the Finance Committee declined to ask Sebelius about her abortion position or her connection to Tiller during her confirmation hearing a few weeks ago.
With today's committee vote, it seems as if some GOP senators want to get credit for opposing Sebelius without taking a clear stand against her. Antiabortion forces may publicly be cheering the Republicans who opposed Sebelius today, but they're privately grinding their teeth over the silent treatment they're getting from their favored party.