WASHINGTON -- Embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning as the White House seeks to move past the election-year political damage inflicted by the rocky rollout of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
Sebelius' resignation comes just over a week after sign-ups closed for the first year of insurance coverage under the so-called Obamacare law. The opening weeks of the enrollment period were marred by widespread website woes, though the administration rebounded strongly by enrolling 7.1 million people by the March 31 deadline, exceeding initial expectations. Enrollment has since risen to 7.5 million as people were given extra time to complete applications.
Even with the late surge in sign-ups, the law remains unpopular with many Americans and Republicans have made it a centerpiece of their efforts to retake the Senate in the fall.
Sebelius' resignation could also set the stage for a contentious confirmation hearing to replace her. In a sign that the White House is seeking to avoid a nomination fight, the president was tapping Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius. Burwell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for her current post.
A White House official requested anonymity to confirm Sebelius' resignation and Burwell's nomination ahead of the formal announcement. Obama has not nominated anyone to replace Burwell as budget director.
Bogus tax refunds a growing problem: An Internet connection and a bunch of stolen identities are all it takes for crooks to collect billions of dollars in bogus federal tax refunds. And the scam is proving too pervasive to stop. A government report in November said the IRS issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over the previous year to criminals who were using other people's personal information. Attorney General Eric Holder said this week that the "scale, scope and execution of these fraud schemes" has grown substantially and the Justice Department in the past year has charged 880 people.
Driver in day care crash in custody: A manhunt across Florida ended Thursday with the surrender of a driver blamed in a deadly crash at a day care that injured 14 and killed a 4-year-old girl who was sitting in a classroom awaiting her afternoon snack. Robert Alex Corchado turned himself. He was charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident almost 24 hours after the KinderCare facility was torn open in the wreck. He was being held on $100,000 bond, said the Orange County Corrections Department. His attorney confirmed his client turned himself in but refused further comment.
Vigil for beaten driver held: Several hundred people gathered at a Detroit church Thursday to pray for racial peace and for the health of white motorist Steve Utash who was brutally beaten by a black mob after he stopped to help a child he accidentally struck with his pickup truck.