Trump’s health secretary pick confirmed narrowly for Cabinet

Published 10:40 am Friday, February 10, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s new health secretary is set to take his post after becoming the latest Cabinet nominee to eke out a confirmation victory in the bitterly divided Senate.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was scheduled to take his oath of office at the White House Friday, just hours after the Senate confirmed him 52-47 in a party-line vote. That roll call came in the dead of night, thanks to Democrats’ tactic of forcing prolonged debates to broadcast their opposition to Trump and his team.

As head of the Health and Human Services Department, Price will take center stage as the administration and congressional Republicans try delivering on their pledge to scrap President Barack Obama’s health care law substitute their own programs.

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After years of trying, they finally command both the White House and Congress but have so far struggled to craft a plan with enough votes to win approval.

Price, a seven-term House member and orthopedic surgeon, is likely to play a lead role both in shaping health care legislation and issuing department regulations aimed at weakening Obama’s statute.

“Having Dr. Tom Price at the helm of HHS gives us a committed ally in our work to repeal and replace Obamacare,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Friday.

Democrats focused on the legislation Price sponsored during a seven-term House career, including efforts to kill Obama’s law. He’s also sought to reshape Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage for seniors into a voucher-like program, cut Medicaid, which helps poor people afford care, and halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions.

Sen Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., conceded that Price had experience but added, “It’s the kind of experience that should horrify you.”