February 28, 2009 / 10:58 PM / in 9 years

Obama picks Sebelius as health secretary-official

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services and will formally announce the decision at a White House ceremony on Monday, a U.S. official said on Saturday.

“This evening, the president asked Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve as his Secretary of Health and Human Services, and she accepted,” the administration official said on condition of anonymity. “The president will formally announce the nomination on Monday afternoon at the White House.”

Sebelius had been considered a top contender for the position since former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination because of personal income tax issues.

The Daschle withdrawal was a big blow for Obama, who made healthcare reform a key part of his agenda during the election campaign and was relying on the former Democratic leader to guide his agenda through the U.S. Congress.

Sebelius, a longtime Obama supporter who had been mentioned as a contender for other Cabinet posts, is a former Kansas health commissioner and is currently the Democratic governor of the largely Republican state. (Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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