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 PriceIs a presidential appointment worth the risk? Former Ryan aide moves to K street Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE resigned as HHS secretary.

The 57-to-38 vote on Wednesday was largely along party lines. Seven Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingDrama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry Warner, Burr split on committee findings on collusion Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs 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 WydenKremlin seeks more control over internet in Russia Wisconsin governor to propose decriminalization of marijuana High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks 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.”