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Senate Republicans jammed through a final vote on the nomination of Rep. Price despite unanswered questions about his qualifications and ethical conduct

New information about Rep. Price’s medical stock trades continues to emerge and raise serious concerns—LINK

Sen. Murray in floor speech ahead of vote: “Because of Congressman Price’s backwards views on women’s health, his harmful vision for health care in our country, and the ethical questions that remain unresolved even as his nomination is headed to a vote—I will be voting against Congressman Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services 

*Video HERE*

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks on the Senate floor calling on Senate Republicans to stand with families nationwide and vote NO on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Senate Republicans scheduled a final vote on the nomination of Rep. Price despite unanswered significant questions about his qualifications and ethical conduct. Senator Murray also has serious concerns about Rep. Price’s troubling plans for our health care system and health priorities crucial to women, families, and seniors nationwide. Congressman Price is a leading proponent of rushing to dismantle our health care system by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare, and gutting Medicaid.

WATCH Sen. Murray’s Floor Speech here.

Full remarks by Senate Murray as prepared for delivery:

M. President—before I begin, I want to note my disappointment about how rushed the consideration of this nominee has been.

Calls for a thorough investigation into Congressman Price’s ethically questionable—and potentially illegal—health trades have been ignored. Hundreds of questions HELP Committee Democrats asked Congressman Price as part of the official committee process have gone unanswered. And the vote to advance Congressman Price’s nomination to the floor took place without Democrats getting any notice—a clear break from longstanding committee rules.

And unfortunately those are just a few examples. It’s clear that Senate Republicans are doing everything they can to protect President Trump’s nominees from tough questions, which is only helping him rig his Cabinet against workers and families. That’s really concerning, especially on issues as critical as families’ health and wellbeing.  

M. President, as I have said before, when I evaluate a nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, I am interested in whether that person has a record of putting people first, not politics, partisanship, or those at the top; I want to know whether they put science first, or ideology; and critically, I consider whether their plans for health care in our country will help more families lead healthy, fulfilling, and secure lives—or take us backward.

Unfortunately, M. President—I am very concerned that Congressman Price falls short in each of these categories, and that his nomination sends another clear signal President Trump is setting up his Cabinet to run our country in a way that benefits those at the top and their allies—but hurts the workers and families we all serve.

M. President, I’ll start with women’s health and reproductive rights. I believe when women have access to quality, affordable health care—when they can afford contraception, and exercise their constitutionally protected rights to make their own choices about their own bodies, our country is stronger for it.

This is because access to health care, which includes reproductive health care, is fundamental to women’s economic independence and opportunity. And when women have more resources, more freedom, and more ability to give back in whatever way they choose, we move forward as a country.

But M. President, Congressman Price has a long record of fighting to take women’s health care in the wrong direction. He has advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood, our country’s largest provider of women’s health care time and time again. He has been determined, since the start, to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of women gain coverage and essential benefits.

And especially given his background in medicine, he has displayed a shocking lack of understanding when it comes to the need for continued work to help women access birth control. He even suggested there “was not one” woman who couldn’t afford contraception. Well—I’ve certainly heard the opposite. And I know for a fact that Congressman Price has too, because I made sure to tell him about my constituent Shannon in our hearing. Shannon has endometriosis and would have struggled to afford contraception—which is often used to treat this condition—were it not for Planned Parenthood. 

M. President, how can a Secretary of Health who won’t listen to stories like Shannon, who can’t understand their need to access basic health care, possibly be trusted to work for all our communities?  And unfortunately, there’s more. While President Trump has magically promised “insurance for everybody” that’s both lower cost and higher quality—Congressman Price’s plans would do the exact opposite.

From the start, he has led the fight for repealing the Affordable Care Act—even though Republicans can’t agree on what they as a party would do to replace it. Congressman Price’s own proposals, however, would cause millions of people to lose coverage, increase the cost of care, and leave people with pre-existing conditions vulnerable to insurance companies rejecting them or charging them more. 

I am hearing constantly from families who are scared about what the future holds for their health care given Republicans’ rush to rip apart our health care system. And plans like Congressman Price’s—which would leave so many so vulnerable—are simply not an answer.

M. President, Donald Trump campaigned on promises to protect Medicare and Medicaid. But, Congressman Price said he wants to “voucherize” Medicare in the first six to eight months of the administration, ending the guarantee of full coverage that so many seniors and people with disabilities rely on. He has put forward policies that would shift $1 trillion in Medicaid costs to states, squeezing their budgets and taking coverage away from struggling children, workers, people with disabilities, and families. And—while President-elect Trump has said that Medicare should be able to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors, Congressman Price has repeatedly opposed efforts to do so.

He even went so far as to call legislation to address high drug prices “a solution in search of a problem.” I couldn’t disagree more. And in addition—I am deeply concerned about Congressman Price’s extreme approach to key public health challenges—including his history of opposing regulations to keep tobacco companies from luring children into addiction.

In fact, M. President—it’s hard to imagine who in America would be better off under Congressman Price’s leadership at HHS. Certainly not women who can no longer be charged more than men for the same health care; children or their families who get peace of mind from having coverage through the exchanges or Medicaid; workers who know they can still get coverage even if they find themselves between jobs; communities who count on public health protections; or seniors, who shouldn’t have to pay more for prescription drugs or worry about what the future holds for Medicare.

All in all, Congressman Price’s vision for our health care system is, to me, disturbingly at odds with the needs of families I hear from every day. But what makes his nomination even more troubling are the serious ethics questions that haven’t been resolved as it has been jammed through the Senate.

I would hope, M. President, that any member of Congress—Republican or Democrat—would take seriously the need to ensure that incoming Cabinet secretaries are free from conflicts of interest, fully prepared to put the public interest first, and have demonstrated a commitment to service for the sake of service, rather than a pattern of mixing personal financial gain with public office.

But unfortunately, M. President, when it comes to this nomination, Senate Republicans have avoided these questions at every turn. When reports first came out that Congressman Price had traded more than $300,000 in medical stocks while working on legislation that could impact companies whose stocks he had purchased, including one whose largest shareholder, Rep. Chris Collin, encouraged Price to invest.

Democrats called for an investigation before the nomination could move forward. But Senate Republicans refused to join us. When outside consumer advocacy groups and ethics counsel raised concerns, Senate Republicans went right ahead with Congressman Price’s hearings. And the day before a vote on his nomination in committee, when a story broke indicating that Congressman Price misled members of the HELP and Finance committees in responding to their questions about his investments, Senate Republicans met secretly to jam his nomination through in a closed-door vote.

M. President, Congressman Price and Senate Republicans have insisted that everything Congressman Price did was above the board and legal. I certainly hope that is the case. But we shouldn’t have to take their word for it—and neither should the families and communities we all serve. So I am deeply disappointed that so many of my Republican colleagues appear willing to overlook the need for a thorough, independent investigation.

M. President—because of Congressman Price’s backwards views on women’s health, his harmful vision for health care in our country, and the ethical questions that remain unresolved even as his nomination is headed to a vote—I will be voting against Congressman Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this nomination.

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