Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, under fire for the glitch-filled rollout of Obamacare, intends to testify on Capitol Hill “as early as next week,” according to an HHS spokeswoman.
“We fully intend for the secretary and other HHS officials to testify before Congress as early as next week, as they have numerous times in the past, but nothing is confirmed at this time,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.
“We have always indicated to the committee that she intended to testify but that she had a scheduling conflict,” Peters added. “We continue to work with them to find a mutually agreeable date in the near future.”
Republicans have ripped Sebelius for not appearing at a hearing Thursday devoted to the technical problems with the website handling open enrollment in Obamacare.
Earlier Monday, Obama for the first time publicly conceded that the public health exchanges were not working the way consumers were promised.
“Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed,” he said from the Rose Garden.
The White House is attempting to separate the problems with the website from the merits of the president’s signature legislative achievement, hoping to convince Americans to not turn away in frustration.
As for Sebelius, Republicans were not swayed by the announcement that she would testify as early as next week.
“To be clear, the House hearing is this week,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Despite its window dressing, this is a statement that Sebelius will not testify on Thursday.”
House Republicans later Monday said they expected Sebelius to testify Oct. 30.
"As the administration continues to withhold important details and enrollment figures, I hope Secretary Sebelius is ready to give answers and finally live up to the president's celebrated claims of transparency," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Republican officials said the contractors who implemented the Obamacare website would testify at the hearing Thursday.
HHS officials said Sebelius would be in Phoenix, Ariz., for a scheduled event on Thursday.