WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's top Republican is welcoming the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL'-yuhs). Mitch McConnell says he hopes it marks the start of a "candid conversation" about what he calls "Obamacare's shortcomings and the need to protect Medicare."
McConnell's statement appears to indicate an openness to a dialogue with the person chosen by President Barack Obama to succeed Sebelius at HHS -- Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is Obama's budget director.
But at the same time, McConnell declared that "Obamacare has to go."
A spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Sebelius' home state of Kansas, calls the resignation a "prudent decision," given what the spokeswoman described as a total failure in implementing the new health care law.
The opening weeks of the enrollment period were marred by problems with the website, straining ties between Sebelius and officials in the West Wing. The administration rebounded, and exceeded expectations by enrolling more than 7 million people by the March 31st deadline. But that didn't end Republican criticism of Sebelius or boost the public's perception of the federal health care overhaul.
A staunch supporter of the health care law, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is praising Sebelius, saying she "was a leader in the long effort to make history for our country with passage of the Affordable Care Act."
040-c-23-(Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP correspondent)-"premiums next year"-AP correspondent Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports the successor to Kathleen Sebelius at HHS will still have some heavy lifting to do on health care. (11 Apr 2014)
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036-c-23-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)-"continue to grow"-AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports the president's point person for the health care law is stepping down. (11 Apr 2014)
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APPHOTO NY118: FILE - In this Monday, March 4, 2013, file photo, Wal-Mart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews Burwell stands on stage in the East Room of the White House in Washington, as President Barack Obama announced he would nominate Burwell to head the Budget Office. In a sign that the White House is seeking to avoid a nomination fight, an official said Obama was tapping Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Kathleen Sebelius, who has resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary. Burwell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for her current post. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) (4 Mar 2013)
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APPHOTO WHCD102: President Barack Obama, flanked by outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, and his nominee to be her replacement, Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 11, 2014. The moves come just over a week after sign-ups closed for the first year of insurance coverage under the so-called Obamacare law. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (11 Apr 2014)
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APPHOTO NY117: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 10, 2014, during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the HHS Department's fiscal Year 2015 budget. A White House official says Sebelius is resigning from the Obama administration. The move comes just a week after the close of the rocky enrollment period for President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (10 Apr 2014)
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