Senate Finance panel to hold Price hearing next week

Senate Finance panel to hold Price hearing next week
© Greg Nash

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next week for Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE's pick for Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary.

Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award Medal of Freedom to economist Arthur Laffer Trump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify MORE (R-Utah) announced the Jan. 24 hearing on Tuesday, calling Price "immensely qualified" to lead HHS.

"As a doctor, he has a firsthand understanding of the healthcare system on the ground and how policies from Washington affect the patient-doctor relationship," Hatch said in a statement.

"And as a legislator, he has set impressive markers on how to reform the healthcare system so patients – not Washington – are empowered to make healthcare decisions for themselves," he continued.

"Installing Dr. Price to lead HHS is a paramount step in repealing and replacing Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that address costs and increase choice. I look forward to having Rep. Price before the Committee to further examine his numerous qualifications to lead the Department."

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Senate passes bipartisan IRS modernization bill MORE (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, blasted the decision to schedule a hearing for Price, who would be at the center of GOP efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare during the Trump administration. Wyden accused Republicans of rushing the process.

“Instead of confronting the serious issues raised about Congressman Price, Republicans are rushing to sneak his nomination through before all outstanding questions have been answered,” Wyden said.

"The Finance Committee has a long, bipartisan tradition of thoroughly reviewing every nominee that comes before the committee, and I’m disappointed that my colleagues have chosen to cut corners and rush this process due to political pressure," he added.

"This job is a grave responsibility, and I’ll be holding Congressman Price accountable for the secret or nonexistent Republican plan for the Affordable Care Act, his efforts to privatize Medicare and end the promise of guaranteed health benefits for seniors and individuals with disabilities, as well as a host of other concerns that Americans deserve to hear clear answers on.”

Senate Democrats had also pushed for a delay for Price's Wednesday hearing before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) amid renewed ethics concerns.

Only the Finance committee will vote on his nomination.

CNN reported Monday that Price invested in a medical device company before introducing legislation to benefit the company.

Price reportedly bought between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of shares in Zimmer Biomet last March. He then introduced the HIP ACT days later to delay a related Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation.

Industry analysts say the CMS regulation would have hurt Zimmer Biomet financially by directly affecting hip and knee replacements, which are the company's forte.

Trump's transition team has dismissed the CNN report and pointed out that a broker made the investment and the Georgia lawmaker wasn't aware of it until after the legislation was introduced. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (D-N.Y.) said Price may have broken the law if he knew about the investment, saying the situation "cries out for an investigation."

He also predicted Tuesday that backlash to reports about Price would sabotage his confirmation.

"I think there's a very good chance he will not be confirmed," he told CNN.
 
The Price story has also brought renewed attention to a 2012 law forbidding members of Congress from personally profiting off private information from their work.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act was one of the few bipartisan achievements during President Obama's tenure.

Price was among 417 House lawmakers who voted to pass it out of 435 members overall.

No lawmaker has faced insider trading charges since the law's passage, but it has given ammo to Democrats eager to scrutinize Price's trading activity.

Updated: 9:02 p.m.