By Christine Kern, contributing writer
After Democrats boycott a series of confirmation hearings, GOP moves forward without them.
After Senate Democrats announced they were boycotting committee votes on several of President Donald Trump’s more controversial cabinet choices, Republicans moved forward without them. On Feb. 1, the Senate Finance Committee “suspended its rules — which typically require at least one member of both parties to be present for such a vote — to advance Rep. Tom Price, R-GA, as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
According to The Hill, Democrats made the move because they believe Price misled senators in their testimony before the panel, and therefore they could not allow a vote to proceed without more information. “[Price] misled Congress and he misled the American people,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the panel.
In response to the Democratic walkout, Senate Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee moved forward with the confirmation process without them, CNN reported, voting to suspend committee rules and advance the nominations of Price, “marking a striking visual of the intensely partisan environment on Capitol Hill.” Senator Orrin Hatch told CNN, “They on their own accord refused to participate in the exercise. They have nobody to blame but themselves.” The move was approved by the Senate Parliamentarian, he explained.
Democrats raised concerns over Price’s nomination, and the pick has been under a cloud of controversy for weeks over questions about whether he properly disclosed stock trading of a biomedical company, which says the congressman was able to purchase with a discount, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As Health IT Outcomes reported, Trump’s choice of Price garnered criticism as the Georgia Representative is a leading critic of Obamacare. Trump defended his nomination, stated Price “is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare’ and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American.”
Hatch also defended the nominations, stating, “Dr. Price’s account of the investment hasn’t really been substantially refuted, let alone disproven. But, my colleagues claim that their misinterpretation of his testimony is grounds for an indefinite delay on his confirmation.”