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HHS nominee Azar to get Senate hearing Nov. 29

HHS nominee Azar to get Senate hearing Nov. 29

The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing Nov. 29 on the nomination of Alex Azar by President Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

On Monday, Trump tapped Azar to take over the post Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceGOP on timing of Haley’s announcement: 'Unusual' and 'odd' Watchdog calls for investigation into Haley flights White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report MORE vacated, after details were revealed about how he took repeated trips on government and private jets costing more than $1 million to taxpayers.

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It’s likely Democrats will rigorously question Azar on his time as a pharmaceutical executive and on his plans for ObamaCare — a law he’s criticized, but that HHS is charged with implementing as congressional Republicans failed to repeal it earlier this year.

 

Azar previously served in the department during President George W. Bush’s administration and was HHS general counsel from 2001 to 2005. He then became deputy secretary for the next two years.

Azar spent nearly a decade at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. and, most recently, serving as Lilly USA’s president — a post he left in January.

The Senate Health Committee typically holds hearings on the HHS nominee, but the Senate Finance Committee is the panel that votes to send a confirmation to the full Senate.

Azar met with the Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday, and Alexander said in a statement that he was “impressed with his knowledge and experience. As a former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services and private sector executive, Alex Azar has the qualifications to get results.”

At least one member of the Senate Health Committee has already slammed the pick, as Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHarris presses young people to vote early in Iowa trip Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout MORE (I-Vt.) said he “will vigorously oppose” the nominee.

“During Mr. Azar’s tenure at Eli Lilly, this multibillion-dollar corporation dodged taxes while charging Americans outrageously high prices for life-saving prescription drugs,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “We need an HHS secretary who is willing to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices, not one who has financially benefitted from this greed. “