05.07.14

Alexander: Secretary Sebelius’s Absence Is “More Than Playing Hooky”

Says her absence at budget hearing is part of a “persistent problem with this administration regarding Article I of the Constitution and the Congress, the representatives of the people, as an inconvenience”

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“We have Article I of the Constitution for a reason. We represent the people for a reason. We are here, ready to do our jobs, and I am extremely disappointed that the secretary of health and human services, who helped write this budget over the last six months, is not here to do her job.” –Lamar Alexander

Washington, D.C., May 7 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today (Video HERE) that the absence of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a hearing to answer questions about a budget that she “helped write” was “more, I’m afraid, than the secretary playing hooky.”

“This is getting to be a persistent problem with this administration regarding Article I of the Constitution and the Congress, the representatives of the people, as an inconvenience,” Alexander said. “I think presidents ought to begin their terms by taking the cabinet down to Mount Vernon and reminding themselves that, while the chief executive is extremely important, the Founders didn’t want a king. George Washington, who could have stayed as long as he lived as president, imprinted his humility and respect for the people in the Constitution that he helped to write”

“This is not right for a secretary of a department to not appear to defend the president’s budget,” said Alexander, the senior Republican on the health committee. “Where is the secretary of health and human services? She’s still on the job. If the secretary of defense were still on the job and waiting on the next secretary to be confirmed, and we were invaded or Ukraine happened, would the secretary of defense not show up?”

Alexander, speaking at the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies’ hearing, continued, “We have Article I of the Constitution for a reason. We represent the people for a reason. We are here, ready to do our jobs, and I’m extremely disappointed that the secretary of health and human services, who helped write this budget over the last six months, is not here to do her job.”

The Department of Health and Human Services oversees about $1 trillion in annual spending, which is close to the amount that the whole Congress appropriates each year.

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