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Cabinet Nominee Price Faces Tough Day at Congressional Hearings

  • VOA News

U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 24, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump's choice for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services faced tough questions Tuesday during his second day of confirmation hearings in the Senate amid continuing debate over the Affordable Care Act.

Trump wants to replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Nominee Tom Price has offered few details about how the Trump administration will do that.

But under intense questioning before the Senate Finance Committee, Price said there is no plan to "pull the rug out" from under the feet of millions of Americans who receive health care insurance coverage under Obamacare.

Price also said "nobody should be priced out of the market" if they have pre-existing health conditions.

WATCH: Senator Aims to Pin Down Answer from Price

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden repeatedly asked Price if "no one will be worse off" by an executive order Trump signed during his first day in office that was aimed at diminishing Obamacare. Price responded, "I guarantee you that the individuals that lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, we will commit to making certain they don't lose coverage under whatever replacement plan comes forward."

Price quizzed about investments

Price also faced more questions about his investments in health care companies and the impact his previous actions as a lawmaker may have had on the companies. The questions followed a Wall Street Journal report that Price traded more than $300,000 worth of shares in about 40 health-related companies over the past four years, even as he pushed legislation that could affect the value of the companies.

FILE - U.N. Ambassador-designate, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 18, 2017.
FILE - U.N. Ambassador-designate, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 18, 2017.

Haley confirmed

Later Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Trump's pick as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The vote was 96-4.

Haley expressed support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that may fuel more violence in the Middle East. She also took a hard line against Russia, saying it cannot be trusted right now.

FILE - Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.
FILE - Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

Carson moves ahead, Comey asked to stay

Also Tuesday, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee unanimously approved Ben Carson as housing secretary. The nomination of the former Republican presidential candidate and renowned neurosurgeon now goes to the full Senate.

And Trump has asked controversial FBI Director James Comey to stay on the job.

Trump criticized Comey for his decision not to prosecute Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified emails when she was secretary of state.

Many Democrats are still angry at Comey for reviving the email investigation 10 days before the November election. They believe that was a factor in Clinton losing the election.

FBI directors are appointed for 10-year terms unless the president replaces them. President Barack Obama named Coney to the job in 2013.

Attorney General-designate, Jeff Sessions, testifies on Capitol Hill, Jan. 10, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Attorney General-designate, Jeff Sessions, testifies on Capitol Hill, Jan. 10, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sessions on hold

The Senate has confirmed three Trump Cabinet nominees — Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

A Senate committee vote on Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general has been postponed for a week to give members more time to examine new material on Sessions that the committee received Sunday.

Several Democrats already have said they will vote against Sessions, saying they doubt his stated commitment to uphold civil rights laws.

Watch: Partisan Divide on Pace of Trump Nominee Confirmations

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