GOP suspends rules, Senate committee pushes through Rep. Tom Price for HHS Secretary

After Senate Democrats Tuesday boycotted a vote on President Donald Trump's HHS secretary nominee, the finance committee elected to suspend traditional rules Wednesday and push through the nomination to a full Senate vote.

President Trump's nominee, Rep. Tom Price, MD, R-Ga., was approved by a vote of 14-0 with no Democrats present. The Senate Finance Committee also pushed through a vote on Steven Mnuchin, former partner at Goldman Sachs and hedge fund manager, for the secretary of the Treasury Department.

"We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the open executive session.

Normally the committee requires a quorum of one-third of committee members and at least one member of each party to be present for its business to be valid. However, another rule governing the committee allows the it to suspend any rules at any time. On Wednesday, the committee chose to suspend its quorum requirement so it could vote on the nominations without Democrats present.

"The process for vetting and reporting Dr. Price's nomination has taken longer than that of the last two HHS secretaries combined," said Sen. Hatch. Democrats chose to boycott the vote and delay the potential nomination of Rep. Price due to concerns over a potential sweetheart investment deal with biomedical technology company Innate Immunotherapeutics.

Democrats from the finance committee sent a letter to Sen. Hatch Wednesday calling for more information on Rep. Price and Mr. Mnunchin's ethical ties and business practices. "We have significant concern that both Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Price gave inaccurate and misleading testimony and responses to questions to the Committee," the letter reads.

Sen. Hatch denied these claims during the executive session Wednesday morning. "I get that my colleagues think these nominations are controversial. I get that they don't want to see them confirmed," Sen. Hatch said. "We've all been in that situation. It comes part and parcel with the job of being a senator."

Now both Mr. Mnuchin and Rep. Price will get a vote on the Senate floor.


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