Sebelius Steps Aside

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OUT WITH SEBELIUS, IN WITH BURWELL: Word began to leak out yesterday that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down today. The president will nominate Sylvia Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, according to ABC's JEFF ZELENY. Sebelius approached President Obama about a month ago and asked to step down after the health care sign-up numbers were released, two senior administration officials and a confidante of Sebelius' told ABC News. The White House always worried about finding someone to win confirmation at HHS, but Burwell was overwhelmingly confirmed as budget director with a vote of 96-0 about a year ago.
  • FLASHBACK: Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas, was among Obama's earliest supporters back in 2008. But the president, while always fond of Sebelius, was furious at the rollout of the health care web site. He placed blame internally on her, aides said, among others. Publicly, however, President Obama stood by her through the embarrassment , ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. "Kathleen Sebelius doesn't write code. She wasn't our IT person," Obama said in an interview with NBC News on Nov. 7. Sebelius, herself, took responsibility for the mess during a series of hearings on Capitol Hill. "Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible," she famously told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Oct. 31, her first of many grillings on Capitol Hill.
  • TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Oabama will announce Sebelius's departure and his nomination of Burwell as her replacement at an 11 a.m. ET event today in the Rose Garden.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS goes one-on-one with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, only on "This Week" Sunday. Plus, we speak with 2016 GOP frontrunner Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., only on "This Week." And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, including the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, Republican strategist and ABC News contributor Ana Navarro, Democratic strategist James Carville, syndicated radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, and University of California, Berkeley professor and former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday:

AS OBAMA CELEBRATES CIVIL RIGHTS LEGACY, CAPITOL HILL ERUPTS WITH RACIAL TENSION. Yesterday - the same day that President Obama, the nation's first black president, celebrated the legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the LBJ Library in Texas - Capitol Hill was boiling over with racial tensions and accusations. "If some of this sounds familiar," Obama said, recounting President Lyndon Johnson's push for civil-rights legislation, "it's because today we remain locked in the same debate about equality and opportunity and the role of government in ensuring each." But even as Obama addressed the crowd of several hundred at the three-day civil-rights summit, halfway across the country, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were engaged in a day of feisty, racially charged exchanges, according to ABC's CHRIS GOOD, MIKE LEVINE, JOHN PARKINSON and ALEXANDER MALLIN.

-HOLDER: During a Wednesday speech to the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Holder applauded the organization's effort to advance racial equality - but then went off script. "Look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee," Holder told the crowd in New York. "What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?" Earlier this week, while testifying before a House panel, Holder engaged in a testy back-and-forthwith Republicans, in particular, Rep. Louis Gohmert, who accused him of violating federal law and questioned whether he should even be allowed to testify before lawmakers - comments that elicited an equally forceful response from the attorney general.

-GOHMERT: Gohmert maintains the tension is about the administration's lack of cooperation on oversight, not skin color. Holder "doesn't even know how bad it gets in Washington if you're a conservative, if you're George W. Bush, if you're John Ashcroft, if you are Alberto Gonzales," Gohmert, R-Texas, said during a speech on the House floor yesterday. "Because it got pretty brutal here, a lot worse than anything our current attorney general has seen."

-BOEHNER: Asked yesterday about Holder's recent run-ins with Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner insisted, "There's no issue of race here" and pointed at a lack of cooperation from the executive branch as the House investigates several controversies that have plagued the administration. "The frustration is that the American people have not been told the truth about what happened at the IRS," said Boehner, R-Ohio, referring to the controversy over the agency scrutinizing the tax status of conservative groups.

-PELOSI: Later, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., put the issue on the table at a news conference, suggesting that race was one reason why Republicans have refused to allow a vote on immigration reform. "I think race has something to do with the fact that they're not bringing up an immigration bill," Pelosi said. "I've heard them say to the Irish, 'If it were just you, this would be easy.'" Pelosi said that Republicans "across the board" had disdain for those who disagreed with them.

-ANALYSIS - ABC's RICK KLEIN: Thank Eric Holder for this, at least: We're talking about race, all out in the open again. The attorney general's fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill, followed up by comments in front of Al Sharpton's group suggesting that race was a factor in the scrutiny he and President Obama have gotten from Congress, has put talk of race and politics front and center. By the end of the day yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner was insisting race has nothing to do with oversight, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the immigration debate is connected to racial politics, and Rep. Louie Gohmert was … not talking about asparagus anymore. One promise of the Obama presidency was the ability to talk openly about race as part of political life. But that hasn't really happened for much of Obama's time in office. The president faces a key choice today: Appearing in front of the same group Holder did earlier in the week, does he go anywhere near where his attorney general just did?


SCOTT BROWN ANNOUNCES NEW SENATE CANDIDACY, DIFFERENT STATE. Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts, made it official last night jumping into the U.S. Senate race against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Brown is attempting to get back to Washington, but this time from neighboring New Hampshire, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. In his announcement speech, he noted the Granite State's "independent streak" and touted his own "independent spirit in action," making a "promise" to voters "I'm nobody's yes man." "I will answer only to you, the people of New Hampshire," Brown said Thursday evening kicking off his official campaign in in Portsmouth. "Every day that I serve, I will give the job all that is in me." Brown has a GOP primary in September, but is heavily favored to go on to battle Shaheen, a Democrat, in a fight that has quickly become one of the most widely watched since he began flirting with entering the race and one that is likely to become the most expensive in New Hampshire history.

BILL CLINTON LOOKS TO THE PAST AT FUNDRAISER FOR CHELSEA'S MOTHER-IN-LAW. Marjorie Margolies' Congressional campaign got a boost from the Big Dog yesterday. With the May 20 primary less than six weeks away, the race for Pennsylvania's thirteenth district is still up for grabs. President Bill Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea is married to Margolies' son Marc Mezvinsky, joined the campaign in Philadelphia yesterday for a high-profile and highly-publicized event at the high-end Warwick Hotel, according to ABC's BETSY KLEIN. "I want to get one thing out of the way," Clinton joked. "I would be here if her son was not my son-in law." The event was not open to the public without a donation. For $1,000, donors attended an hors d'oeuvres reception featuring remarks by Clinton. And $5000 bought a private VIP reception and photo opportunity with Clinton. The campaign tells ABC News the event raised over $200,000.

-FLASHBACK: This wasn't the first time Clinton has stumped on Margolies' behalf. In August 1993, Margolies, then a freshman Congresswoman, cast a controversial vote in favor of the Clinton Budget, which proposed an increase in federal taxes. After promising her constituents that she was against the budget, Clinton personally called to ask her to support his economic plan. Margolies-Mezvinsky (she was still married at the time) broke her no-new-tax pledge to cast the decisive 218th vote to Republican chants of "Goodbye, Marjorie" on the House floor. They were right. The fallout from the vote cost her the seat, and hers' became the textbook case of a career-ending vote.

UN-FRIENDLY FIRE: BOBBY JINDAL CALLS ON MCALLISTER TO RESIGN. Top Republicans in Louisiana, including the state's governor, called on embattled Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister to resign yesterday in the wake of a scandal involving the congressman and one of his staffers, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and JOHN PARKINSON report. "Congressman McAllister's behavior is an embarrassment and he should resign," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement. "He says he wants privacy to work on his issues with his family. The best way to get privacy and work on putting his family back together is to resign from Congress." "The Republican Party of Louisiana calls on Vance McAllister to resign his seat in Congress," Roger F. Villere, Jr, chairman of the Louisiana GOP, said. "Mr. McAllister's extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics." McAllister, who initially gained national attention after he was endorsed by the stars of Duck Dynasty and won a special election last fall, is now fighting to keep his seat after he attracted headlines when a video surfaced this week showing him making out with a woman staffer, who has since resigned.

HOUSE PANEL APPROVES LERNER CONTEMPT RESOLUTION IN IRS SCANDAL. A day after the House Ways and Means committee voted to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution, another committee voted to adopt a resolution recommending the House find Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the panel, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes. In a strictly party-line vote, 21 Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to send the resolution to the floor for consideration by the full House. Twelve committee Democrats voted against the move. "Today, the Oversight Committee upheld its obligation to pursue the truth about the IRS targeting of Americans because of their political beliefs," Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said. Democrats, meanwhile, argued that the committee was violating Lerner's constitutional rights not to incriminate herself.


SENATE CANDIDATE SPENT $868 ON VIRAL 'BLOW YOUR B**** OFF' AD. The U.S. Senate race in Iowa appears to be quickly turning into a competition for which candidate can make the quirkiest campaign video. Two weeks ago, Republican Joni Ernst unleashed the "Squeal" ad, in which the Senate candidate compared her experience with castrating hogs to "cutting pork" in Washington. But Bob Quast, who is running as an independent, may have her beat. In the ad Quast says, "If you are the sexual predator and sociopath who murdered my sister Lynnette and you come to my front door to do harm to my girls, I'm going to use my Glock to…" (well, we'll let you watch the video for yourself. That statement comes 15 seconds into Quast's "spoof" web video on YouTube. Quast, a former US Army contractor, didn't consider himself a true candidate in the race until the video went viral, he told ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN. Quast paid his neighbor $868 to shoot and edit it for him, he said, adding that he plans to release more videos using the donations he receives on his website. "Before this video, people didn't know who I was. Now every person out there knows who I am," Quast said. "They may think I'm crazy; that's all right. Once they see my next videos and know what I stand for, they won't think I'm crazy." WATCH:


HEARTBREAK, HOPE IN QUEST TO ADD 74 NAMES TO VIETNAM MEMORIAL. Just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C. stands a large, black stone wall, more than 245 feet in length. Etched in its reflective surface are 58,268 names of U.S. service members who lost their lives decades ago a half a world away. This is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but, as ABC's MOLLY NAGLE reports, some believe it is incomplete. Nearly 40 years after the war's end, some families are still fighting for their loved ones' service to be recognized, and for their names to be inscribed onto the slab of smooth granite. On a wall with more than 58,000 names, how hard is it to add another 74? Harder than you might think. For more than three years, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has been working with members of the Frank E. Evans Association, a group of former service members and families, who have long been fighting to have 74 names added to the memorial. The names belong to men who lost their lives aboard the USS Frank E. Evans during the war, and have been left off the memorial, they say, because of a technicality. But a new push by Schiff to have Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recognize these fallen servicemen has brought new hope to the families. Schiff recently met with Hagel, a Vietnam vet himself, to ask for help. READ THE FULL STORY:


@jamesgoldston: End of Day 1. Thank you @BenSherwoodABC for an incredible 3 yrs. @ABC family - humbled, honored, grateful, & excited for the future.

@JamesPindell: Watch @SenScottBrown's first TV ad here (they hope to start airing it Monday on WMUR) #nhpolitics #nhsen

@MarkHalperin: 1 thing is clear re NH Sen race: Ds are determined to kill Scott Brown in the crib by defining him early & often on their terms

@ArletteSaenz: Senate Conservatives Fund endorses John Ratcliffe in the Texas 4th Congressional district race vs. incumbent Rep. Ralph Hall

?@aaronschock: #sunrise at the Tidal Basin #cherryblossoms

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