Senate advances Price to final confirmation vote

The Senate voted along party lines Wednesday evening to advance Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Ga.) controversial nomination to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services to a final vote.

Senators voted 51-48 to pass a procedural step in Price’s nomination, setting up a final confirmation vote for Friday morning.

Republicans say their plans to repeal the landmark 2010 Affordable Care Act depend largely on Price taking control of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as many policy changes can be made administratively.

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One GOP lawmaker said Price’s nomination was more important than those for other Cabinet posts — such as the secretary of Education — because it will allow their healthcare reform plans to move ahead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday morning he is eager to get Price confirmed so “he can get to work helping provide relief from ObamaCare and stabilizing the healthcare markets.”

Democrats signaled early that Price would be one of their top targets because of his staunch support for repealing ObamaCare and cutting spending on Medicare. The chamber confirmed Attorney General nominee Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE Wednesday evening, before it moved on to Price's nomination. 

Price, who was chairman of the House Budget Committee when nominated, announced that Congress would move to overhaul Medicare within the first six to eight months of Trump’s administration.

In 2015, he expressed support for a proposal to reduce Medicare costs by delivering benefits through a voucher program.

Price has also come under fire for getting a privileged offer to buy a biomedical stock after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he received a 12 percent discount on the purchase.

Democrats noted that he bought the stock shortly before introducing legislation that would have benefited the company by blocking regulation of the manufacture of certain medical devices.

Price insisted in his confirmation hearing testimony that he did not have access to non-public information when he made his purchase.

But Democrats later accused the nominee of misleading the Senate Finance Committee about whether the stock offer was made widely available. 

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenRepublicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change GOP, business groups snipe at Biden restaurant remarks On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June MORE (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Price’s nomination, said the Wall Street Journal report showed that “Congressman Price has lied to the Congress.”

“We’re showing that we’re serious about our job of oversight and vetting and not rubber-stamping,” he said.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTo break the corporate tax logjam, tax overinflated CEO pay Six months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats MORE (D-W.Va.), a leading centrist, announced Wednesday evening that he would oppose Price.