Sebelius confirmed as health secretary

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Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday afternoon won Senate confirmation to serve as the nation’s health and human services secretary.

Mrs. Sebelius, in a letter sent to the Kansas secretary of state before the vote, resigned the governorship effective with the Senate vote to approve her nomination.

Sebelius spokeswoman Seth Bundy said that Mrs. Sebelius would travel to Washington to be sworn in as secretary.

She already has a public health emergency on her hands with the swine flu sickening dozens of Americans.

The 65-31 vote came after Democrats urged quick action so that Mrs. Sebelius could get to work leading the federal response to the flu outbreak. Sixty votes in the 100-seat Senate were necessary for approval.

Republican opponents cited Mrs. Sebelius’ pro-abortion stances and raised concerns about whether the Obama administration’s plans to overhaul the nation’s health system would lead to rationing of care.

Mrs. Sebelius was the final Obama Cabinet pick awaiting confirmation.

Mrs. Sebelius’ resignation automatically elevated Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson to governor. Mr. Parkinson is a former Kansas Republican Party chairman who switched parties in 2006 to run on her re-election ticket.

Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed to this article from Topeka, Kan.

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