Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Was Sibelius "Immunized" by Swine Flu Outbreak?

Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius has been overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As recently as last week, Republicans were citing "blockbuster" information that could stop her nomination, but Tuesday's vote was 65-31 in favor of nomination. The swine flu outbreak appeared to override ideological concerns.

"We find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said during Senate debate. "What we've been missing in all of this is the head of the Health and Human Services Department."

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is without an administrator, since nominee Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg - who also happens to be one of the nation’s experts on bioterrorism and pandemics - is still awaiting Senate confirmation.

“The administration and the general public greatly benefit from having a confirmed Secretary and FDA Commissioner who would help provide the stability, leadership and confidence the public seeks from the nation’s top public health department at times of such public health emergencies,” said Jim Greenwood, a former GOP congressman and current CEO of BIO — the Washington lobby for the biotechnology industry.


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