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 PriceOvernight Health Care: Funding bill could provide help for children's health program | Questions for CVS-Aetna deal | Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill Warren questions Conway's role in curbing opioid epidemic Trump promised ‘best people’ would run government — they upended it MORE resigned as HHS secretary.

The 57-to-38 vote on Wednesday was largely along party lines. Seven Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Trump pushing Maine gov to run for Senate: report Schumer: Franken should resign MORE (I-Maine) supported the nomination.

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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 WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world 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.”