Capitol Correspondence - 01.16.18

Confirmation Likely for Alex Azar as HHS Secretary following Senate Hearing

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The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominations, held a confirmation hearing for Administration nominee Alex Azar. Video of the hearing can be accessed here. A moment of note occurs 1 hour, 35 minutes into the hearing when Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) poses specific questions of Azar on disability services and the Medicaid program (this is about three minutes in length).  Senator Casey’s office has informed us that he has asked for additional written responses from Azar focused on disability services.

The Senate Finance Committee is meeting on the nomination of Azar in Executive Session on Wednesday and is expected to move the nomination with support to the Senate Floor for confirmation. Mr. Azar benefits from widespread GOP support and has obtained the support of two Democratic Senators up for re-election this year in states that went for the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. These two Senators are Heidi Heitkamp of South Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Other Democratic Senators up for re-election in “Trump states” in 2018, such as Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Bill Nelson of Florida, remain undecided as to whether they will support Mr. Azar’s nomination.