Dem senator to grill HHS secretary over denied entry at detention facility

Dem senator to grill HHS secretary over denied entry at detention facility
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Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Fla.) said he is planning to press Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a hearing Tuesday for details on why he was denied entry at a Florida facility housing immigrant children.  

Nelson, who is up for reelection in November, said on Monday that he believes his denial was political, noting that GOP Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHouse passes bill taking aim at anonymous shell companies Turkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (Fla.) was allowed to enter the facility late last week.

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"I don't in any way fault Senator Rubio. ... [But] am I surprised? This is the most partisan administration ... that I've ever seen. Decisions are being made on the basis of pure partisan politics," Nelson told reporters when asked about Rubio's visit. 

Azar is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee for a prescription drug hearing. 

Nelson was one of a group of Florida Democrats who on Saturday toured a facility overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

He was previously denied entry into the facility. Nelson said he spoke with HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, who told him that it was department policy that tours had to be set up two weeks in advance. 

"To which I replied, Mr. Secretary you and I both know that's bull hockey," Nelson told reporters, recalling the conversation. 

Nelson is one of several Democratic lawmakers who attempted to visit detention facilities in the wake of Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which resulted in the separation of immigrant families detained along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Trump signed an executive order last week that would allow the families to stay together "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources."

But the executive order has sown confusion about how the policy is being implemented, and lawmakers, who believe it will get challenged in court, argue that legislation is still needed. 

"The executive order is a sham. It was an attempt to divert attention," Nelson said on Monday.