January 18, 2017
The Left may not succeed in taking down Donald Trump's Attorney General pick, but that doesn't mean they're done trying. Now that Senator Jeff Sessions's (R-Ala.) hearings are over, Democrats are turning their fire on the next secretary of Health and Human Services, Representative (and doctor) Tom Price (R-Ga.). With Congress on the verge of repealing key provisions of Obamacare, the next Secretary of HHS having significant authority to enforce that repeal. That's probably why Democrat Senators on the HELP Committee, like Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), worked so hard today to try to undermine Dr. Price's reputation and integrity. So hard, in fact, that Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) chided his colleagues calling the hearing an "anger management hearing" and said he hoped his Democrat colleagues felt better after getting some of their frustrations out.
Amazingly, some substance was broached during the course of the hearing, as senators did manage to ask about Dr. Price's vision for health care reform. Among other things, Price highlighted the problems with Obamacare's costs, including increases in the costs of premiums and deductibles that have prevented Americans from having adequate care, even when they technically have coverage. He said that his goal would be affordable care for everyone. While Senator Kaine (D-Va.) used his time to note Price's support for defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing Obamacare, several senators praised Price for his work on healthcare reform and his unique knowledge of the healthcare system from the perspective of a doctor, as well as his public policy experience from his time serving in the House of Representatives.
If Price is confirmed, one thing's for certain: he has his work cut out for him reforming HHS. Over the last eight years, HHS has issued thousands of pages of rules, which usually had the weight of legislation despite being enacted and enforced by unelected bureaucrats. These rules ranged from redefining sex to include gender identity and requiring doctors to provide sex change surgeries, to undermining the conscience protections of medical care and coverage providers who don't want to promote or provide abortion. It'll be up to the new secretary to systematically overturn these actions, which are not only undermining the constitutional balance of powers -- but costing taxpayers!
In the meantime, HELP Committee Democrats made it clear they would stoop to any level to oppose Price's nomination, including making up bogus ethics complaints. He's an excellent choice for Secretary of HHS and would make great strides to ensure all Americans have access to affordable care. He will soon be before the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote on his nomination.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.