Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns

Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns
© Greg Nash

The Senate confirmed Eric Hargan to fill the No. 2 position in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just days after Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWhite House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Overnight Health Care: CBO finds bill delaying parts of ObamaCare costs B | Drug CEO defends 400 percent price hike | HHS declares health emergency ahead of hurricane HHS should look into Azar's close ties to the drug industry MORE resigned as HHS secretary.

The 57-to-38 vote on Wednesday was largely along party lines. Seven Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash MORE (I-Maine) supported the nomination.

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Hargan will now join HHS as President Trump needs to nominate a new secretary, which is sure to lead to a confirmation fight in the Senate. Price left the post last week after Politico reported that his use of private jets for government travel cost taxpayers more than $1 million. 

Hargan, previously a Chicago-based lawyer, served at HHS in the Bush administration. He held various roles within the department, such as deputy general counsel, principal associate deputy secretary and acting deputy secretary. He was part of President Trump’s HHS transition team.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Hargan didn’t specify if he would keep parts of ObamaCare, according to a Chicago Tribune article.

“That’s a subject of a lot of dispute here on Capitol Hill,” he reportedly said.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, the panel’s ranking member — Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Google says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers MORE (D-Ore.) — urged his colleagues to vote against the nomination. Wyden detailed various actions from the administration, such as cutting ObamaCare’s open enrollment period by half, that he views as sabotaging President Obama’s signature health law.

“I have no reason to believe Mr. Hargan will deviate from Tom Price’s ideological agenda that includes constant sabotage of the Affordable Care Act,” Wyden said. “This campaign of sabotage is driving up premiums and confusing Americans who just want to be able to see a doctor and get affordable treatment.”