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 PriceFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Mueller indicts 12 Russian officials for DNC hack | Trump does damage control after bombshell interview MORE resigned as HHS secretary.

The 57-to-38 vote on Wednesday was largely along party lines. Seven Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingHillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger Senators press federal election officials on state cybersecurity 'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol 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 WydenDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families Dems say new emails show Cohen ‘selling access’ to White House 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.”