WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats criticized stock purchases by President Donald Trump’s pick for health secretary on Tuesday as the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on a nominee who’s backed by Republicans but under fire from Democrats for his support for tearing down President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and his past financial activities as a member of Congress.
The nominee, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was accused by the panel’s top Democrat of “a conflict of interest and an abuse of his position” for buying shares in health care firms that could benefit from congressional legislation. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Price had also omitted information in his responses to the Finance Committee’s questionnaire for nominees, and said the panel should delay approving Price’s nomination until it learns more.
Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, accused Democrats of “what are, by and large, specious and distorted attacks.” He praised Price for having “the experience and qualifications” needed to head the Health and Human Services Department, which has an annual budget exceeding $1 trillion.
Price, 62, is a veteran conservative congressman and orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta’s suburbs who has long favored voiding Obama’s 2010 law and wrote his own proposed substitute for it. Chairman of the House Budget Committee until recently, he’s also favored revamping Medicare and Medicaid, which Democrats vehemently resist and Trump as a presidential candidate said he opposed.