Dems request review of whether Health Department tweets broke law

Dems request review of whether Health Department tweets broke law
© Greg Nash

Congressional Democrats are requesting an investigation of whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under President Trump has been violating the law by advocating for the passage of legislation on its Twitter accounts. 

The Democrats, in a letter to the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, point to messages on the official HHS Twitter feed calling for the passage of the Republican bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, known as the American Health Care Act. 

“In recent months, at least two of the Department’s official Twitter accounts have promoted the American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) — legislation that is now pending before the Congress,” wrote Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive MORE (D-Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS audit rate down in fiscal 2018 Oregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator's tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week MORE (D-Ore.) as well as Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the top Democrats on the congressional healthcare committees. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“These actions appear to violate restrictions on the use of the Department’s appropriations for supporting the enactment of legislation pending before Congress, in this case, a legislative proposal that would repeal the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") and leave 23 million Americans without health insurance,” they added.

They point to a provision in the appropriations bill banning federal funds from being used for electronic communications to advocate for legislation before Congress. The Anti-Lobbying Act also has prohibitions on using federal funds to back legislation Congress is considering, the Democrats note. 

The tweets in question include the HHS account linking to clips of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price speaking in support of the AHCA on the show "Fox & Friends," as well as links to videos of Americans speaking about how ObamaCare has harmed them.