Sen. Rubio: Sebelius' Refusal to Testify Undermining Credibility

Sunday, 20 Oct 2013 11:59 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' refusal to testify about the massive issues surrounding the Oct. 1 Obamacare rollout is undermining her credibility and could eventually lead to her resignation, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday.

However, the senator told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace that he isn't among the Republicans calling for her immediate resignation, as he thinks she should testify before the House.

Replacing Sebelius "may become an option," said Rubio, but he stressed he's not a "big fan of those immediate calls for people to resign, but I think in this case the actions that you just outlined are going to make it more difficult for her to do her job effectively. The transparency or lack thereof are concerning."

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The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week sent a letter directly to ask her to testify before a committee hearing planned for this Thursday, Fox News reported Saturday.

But Sebelius plans to attend a gala in Boston the night before at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The event is part of a mental health conference organized by former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy.

Last week, Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich, turned his focus on Sebelius after she appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last week to talk about the website, while still refusing requests to testify before the House committee.

"Secretary Sebelius had time for Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress,” Upton said about the clip, after which Stewart quipped "maybe she's just lying to me."

Rubio told Wallace that Sebelius "refusal to testify and be transparent about it" is undermining her credibility and there may come a point where she will have no choice but to resign.

Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, also appearing on the Sunday show, agreed that Sebelius should have to testify about the Obamacare roll-out.

"The secretary's view that she doesn't have to testify, doesn't have to answer questions, that she's too busy for that, is unsustainable," Blunt said. "She won't be able to sustain it."

Like Rubio, Blunt call for her immediate resignation, but instead for her to testify about the failed Obamacare rollout and the ongoing issues with its website.

"I don't think she can refuse to answer questions about this and trying to defend that, 'I have time to go to a gala in Boston, but I don't have the time to appear before the Congress because I'm so busy trying to make this system work,'" Blunt said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, also on the Sunday morning show, told Wallace that Sebelius will "ultimately" end up testifying, but did not say when that would happen.

House investigators are trying to determine if officials involved with the website either didn't know or disclose the problems with the government's health exchange website, which has locked up without allowing users to sign up for or learn about insurance plan costs.

The White House and Sebelius have also come under fire for not reporting how many people have been able to sign up for medical care, although this weekend, officials reported 476,000 have applied online for insurance. But, Rubio stressed, "that doesn't give us any information about how many people have actually enrolled...If enough people don't sign up for these exchanges, the rate numbers on these exchanges is going to be astronomical."

Rubio said that the numbers released don't show that the rollout controversy is being overstated.

"They have to get seven million people on this thing," he said. "At the rate its going, even by their own numbers, it's not going to get there."

On Saturday, House Speaker John Boehner also lambasted Sebelius' reluctance to testify, saying: "HHS Secretary @Sebelius has time for galas & late night TV, but won’t testify about the #ObamaCare #trainwreck

Related stories:

Sebelius: Obamacare Website 'Simple and User-Friendly'

Sen. Roberts: Sebelius Must Resign for 'Disastrous' Obamacare Rollout



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