Senate advances Trump's Medicaid, Medicare pick
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The Senate is advancing Seema Verma, President Trump's nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Senators voted 54-44 Thursday on her nomination, which needed only a simple majority to overcome the initial procedural hurdle. 

The Senate could take a final vote on Verma on Friday night, but her confirmation is expected to be kicked to Monday.

If confirmed, Verma will be dropped into the GOP fight over how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

What happens to ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion is a key concern of a handful of Senate Republicans, who have warned they could vote against a repeal bill over the issue.

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Verma would play a large roll in any attempt to reform either Medicare or Medicaid. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) predicted that she would be "invaluable" as lawmakers move forward on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

"My hope is Ms. Verma will be able to focus more time and attention than her recent predecessors to the core functions of the agency," he said. 

Democrats largely opposed Verma's nomination after trying unsuccessfully to pin her down on a number of policy issues during her hearing, including if or how she would reform the programs.

Democrats opposing her nomination said during the committee vote that she didn't answer their questions about what she would do with the programs.