Democrats aim to delay vote on Trump’s Health Secretary pick

Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) The US Senate Democrats will urge their Republican colleagues to postpone a vote on Tuesday on the nomination of Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, over ethics concerns, the media reported.

Democratic Senators Patty Murray, Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren urged the Senate Majority Leader in a letter on Monday, that the vote be postponed until Price answers “outstanding and significant questions about (Price’s) qualifications and ethical conduct”, CNN reported.

Both the Senate Health and Finance committees held hearings with Price this month, and the Finance panel is set to vote on Price’s nomination Tuesday morning.

“A vote has been scheduled to advance Representative Price’s nomination even though he has not responded to questions submitted by members of the HELP (Health, Education, Labour and Pensions) Committee following his January 18 testimony, and in spite of serious concerns regarding Price’s financial investments,” the letter said.

The four Democrats argued that Price’s nomination should not move forward before the Georgia congressman has answered the committee’s questions “and has provided documents sought in connection with his inappropriate and potentially illegal investment activities.”

Murray, along with Senator Ron Wyden, a top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, have asked Price for copies of his brokerage statements. Their colleagues have also pressed for other information pertaining to Price’s past financial investments.

Several reports released earlier suggested that Price had invested in shares of pharmaceutical companies that would benefit from a law that he supported in the House of Representatives, which could lead to him being implicated in the ethical violation of insider trading, Efe news reported.

Republicans are unlikely to delay the vote, however, as the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch, dismissed questions about Price’s stock holdings as “exaggerated” and “distorted”.

If confirmed, Price will be the executing arm of the repeal and replacement of former President Barack Obama’s government health reform.