The Senate Finance Committee today approved the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga), to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and serve as President Donald Trump’s point person in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The 14 to 0 vote reflected the partisan tumult engulfing the nation’s capital during Trump’s first few weeks in office. All the votes came from Republican members of the committee because, for a second day in a row, the 12 Democratic members boycotted executive sessions to confirm both Dr Price and Steven Mnuchin, the president’s nominee for Treasury secretary. Ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said the committee should not move forward on the nominations until it addresses “unanswered questions and misleading statements” by both men. Democrats contend that Dr Price has not come clean about alleged conflicts of interest regarding his investments in healthcare companies, which he has denied.
The committee normally needs at least one member from each party present to fulfill its quorum requirement, but Republicans suspended that rule so they could proceed to a vote.
Dr Price’s nomination now goes before the full Republican-controlled Senate for a vote. Because the Senate changed its rules when Democrats were in power to exempt cabinet-level appointments from a filibuster, Dr Price needs only a simple majority, or 51 votes, for confirmation. Republicans hold 52 seats.