Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns

Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns
© Greg Nash

The Senate confirmed Eric Hargan to fill the No. 2 position in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just days after Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PricePolitical appointees led cancelation of teen pregnancy prevention program Cost of Pruitt's Italy trip rises above ,000 Mnuchin spent million on military flights, says watchdog MORE resigned as HHS secretary.

The 57-to-38 vote on Wednesday was largely along party lines. Seven Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingLindsey Graham: Trump firing Mueller would 'probably' be impeachable offense Angus King: McCabe firing seemed 'mean-spirited' With bills on the table, Congress must heed the call to fix our national parks MORE (I-Maine) supported the nomination.

Hargan will now join HHS as President Trump needs to nominate a new secretary, which is sure to lead to a confirmation fight in the Senate. Price left the post last week after Politico reported that his use of private jets for government travel cost taxpayers more than $1 million. 

Hargan, previously a Chicago-based lawyer, served at HHS in the Bush administration. He held various roles within the department, such as deputy general counsel, principal associate deputy secretary and acting deputy secretary. He was part of President Trump’s HHS transition team.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Hargan didn’t specify if he would keep parts of ObamaCare, according to a Chicago Tribune article.

“That’s a subject of a lot of dispute here on Capitol Hill,” he reportedly said.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, the panel’s ranking member — Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica | Senators grill DHS chief on election security | Omnibus to include election cyber funds | Bill would create 'bug bounty' for State Senate passes controversial online sex trafficking bill GOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee MORE (D-Ore.) — urged his colleagues to vote against the nomination. Wyden detailed various actions from the administration, such as cutting ObamaCare’s open enrollment period by half, that he views as sabotaging President Obama’s signature health law.

“I have no reason to believe Mr. Hargan will deviate from Tom Price’s ideological agenda that includes constant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act,” Wyden said. “This campaign of sabotage is driving up premiums and confusing Americans who just want to be able to see a doctor and get affordable treatment.”