The Senate voted to confirm Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) early Friday morning as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Price was confirmed in a 52-47 vote along party lines after a debate that lasted until about 2 a.m.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon, is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act. As the nation’s top health official, he is expected work with Congress on Obamacare’s repeal and replacement.
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) applauded Price’s confirmation.
"For Americans struggling under Obamacare, today is a big step forward,” Ryan said:
Having Dr. Tom Price at the helm of HHS gives us a committed ally in our work to repeal and replace Obamacare and finally provide Americans with a better system. As we have made clear, the time for patient-centered reform is now, and Tom is — without question — the leader at HHS we need to make it happen. We look forward to working with him to expand access to quality, affordable health care.
Democrats criticized Price over his opposition to Obamacare and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Price has “dedicated his life to destroying Medicare as we know it,” according to the New York Times.
Price was also accused of insider trading during his confirmation hearing. According to CBS News, Price “bought shares in a medical device company last year and then introduced legislation in the House to help the company less than a week later.”
Price denied the accusations and said his broker purchased the stocks in his name as part of an investment portfolio she manages for him.
“The fact of the matter is that I have had no conversations with my broker about any political activity at all other than her congratulating me on my election,” Price said at one of his confirmation hearings.