Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called President Barack Obama's choice for the top HHS post "good news," adding that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius would bring "solid experience to the position."
Obama is scheduled to announce the nomination at a 1 p.m. EST news conference at the White House.
The HHS position is seen by many as one of the most important posts given the strong push from Washington to change how healthcare is delivered and paid for.
Baucus' committee holds sway over that nomination and his endorsement of Sebelius could go a long way in the process. The senator, who has emerged as a key player on Capitol Hill in the healthcare movement, would need to work closely with any HHS secretary in what is expected to be a tough legislative push for reform this year.
"Passing comprehensive healthcare reform is an absolute imperative this year, and as a former insurance commissioner, Gov. Sebelius really gets what needs to be done," Baucus said in a written statement. "Added to that, she's accustomed to working together with Democrats and Republicans to get things accomplished."
Sebelius also picked up the support of her own state's conservative voices, Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, who said they look forward to working with the governor.
"We know we can have a strong dialogue with (her) on issues we've been working on, including fighting Medicare reimbursement cuts to home healthcare providers and ensuring the hundreds of billions of healthcare dollars are wisely spent," the senators said in a written statement.
But they also highlighted a number of differences that they have with the administration, especially on the creation of a $634 billion reserve fund that was outlined in the White House budget and the called-for creation of a new public health insurance option.
Sebelius, 60, was an early Obama supporter who worked for Obama's bid and was a top surrogate to women's groups. In 2002, while serving as Kansas' insurance commissioner, she was named #92 on Modern Healthcare's inaugural list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.
Sebelius must be confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate.