I was pretty shocked when I learned that Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) decided to back Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ (D-Kansas) appointment as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
After a day of uncertainty, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said Tuesday he would vote to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The President won the election and has nominated a Kansan to the cabinet,” Brownback said in a statement. “Despite our profound policy differences, I will support my fellow Kansan.”
This seems unfathomable to do such a thing since this post has much sway on Right-to-Life issues, and she will give a boost to the abortion and stem cell industries in this role. He is already being accused of “throwing the unborn under the bus.” Apparently he has a political explanation for his decision according to Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report:
But two sources tell me that Brownback’s people have been making the case to antiabortion groups—especially those in Kansas—that there’s a strong political rationale for installing the Kansas governor in Washington. The move gets her out of Kansas, Brownback’s argument goes, heading off her expected run for the Senate in 2010. Which means the Sunflower State Senate seat that Brownback’s vacating for a gubernatorial run is likely to stay in Republican hands, since the Kansas Democratic Party doesn’t have another candidate who is half as popular as Sebelius. And that’s good for the antiabortion cause, according to the reasoning.
I suspected that there was likely a pragmatic, political reason for his decision. But does it really matter? Does this really advance the pro-life cause? I’m concerned about the damage that could be done by this appointment. I am surprised because Senator Brownback has been nothing but solid on pro-life issues that have come up in the Senate.
Update: Kevin Tracy’s defense of Senator Brownback.
3rd Update: Jill Stanek reported on some fireworks between Senator Brownback and Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky at the Senate Values Action Team Meetings