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Price Confirmed as HHS Secretary on Party-Line Vote

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) arrives with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Capitol Hill on Jan. 31, 2017, for a closed-door GOP strategy session. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — At 2 a.m. this morning, during a week of Senate all-nighters as Dems use what few tools they have to delay President Trump’s cabinet nominees, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) was confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary.

The vote was 52-47 along party lines, with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) not voting.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was ripped by progressive activists after voting for his friend Jeff Sessions for attorney general, voted against Price, saying he made his decision after “reviewing his experience and watching his hearing.”

“As a member of Congress, Rep. Price led the Republican effort to privatize Medicare and turn it into a voucher program which would increase costs for seniors and harm our economy,” Manchin explained. “During his hearing, Rep. Price also refused to commit to ensuring that individuals, who have gained access to substance abuse treatment, would continue to have that access during his tenure.”

“These services are not a luxury to the people I represent,” he added. “If Rep. Price institutes his policies as secretary of HHS, West Virginians will not be able to afford the critical services they need to survive.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued on the Senate floor that Price “knows more about health care policy than just about anyone.”

“He doesn’t just understand healthcare policy as a policymaker — though he does, deeply — he also understands it as a practicing physician,” McConnell said. “He gets the real-world impact. He has a clear-eyed view about Washington’s capacity to do great harm, even with the best of intentions, just as he’s excited about his potential to do great good. He can start having a positive impact almost as soon as he’s confirmed. He can start bringing stability to the healthcare markets Obamacare has harmed. He can start bringing relief to the families Obamacare has hurt.”

“I know he’s ready to get to work with Congress to move toward truly patient-centered health care, care that prioritizes the needs of patients over the needs of Washington.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Price perhaps “the quintessence of President Trump’s cabinet – a creature of Washington, deeply conflicted, and far outside of the mainstream when it comes to his views on healthcare.”

Schumer called Price’s confirmation “the Republicans’ first move in their first assault in the war on seniors.”

“Here’s what worries me: From what I know of the president, he will cede great authority to his cabinet officials, content to jump from one topic to the next, one tweet to the next. I would put much greater stock in Rep. Price’s record than anything the president promised during the campaign,” he added. “And for that reason, every American who receives benefits from those programs, the millions of American seniors, women, families, and people living with disabilities should be gravely concerned about what the tenure of a Secretary Tom Price will mean for their healthcare.”

Price said on the House floor Thursday that he wants “to ensure that our healthcare system adheres to what I call the six principles of health care: affordability, accessibility, quality, choices, innovation, and responsiveness.”

“The new administration and HHS will work together with the Congress to get Washington out of the way, to protect and strengthen our country’s healthcare system to help improve the lives of the American people, to help heal individuals and whole communities across our beloved nation,” he said.