(RNN) - The U.S. Senate has confirmed Georgia Congressman Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services.
Price was confirmed by a vote of 52-47 early Friday morning along party lines. He only needed a simple majority to win confirmation.
The vote came in the middle of the night, and the Senate worked late because of procedural delays on many Trump cabinet members, with Republicans accusing Senate Democrats of obstructing the process. Price was one of several nominees to have a contentious hearing.
Democrats raised questions on Price's financial portfolio, including the purchase of stocks of an Australian biotech company at a reduced price. He also pushed legislation that would have helped a medical implant company he had recently purchased stock in.
Price denied any wrongdoing, claiming purchases were made by his stockbroker without his knowledge.
Price is a six-term Republican who has been a harsh critic of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, claiming that the law interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decisions.
The GOP holds a 52-48 margin in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Price knows more about healthcare policy than "just about anyone."
Price, 62, has introduced detailed replacement plans as alternatives to Obamacare since 2009, when work on the health legislation began. His 2015 plan featured tax credits, health savings accounts and high-risk pools, and it gives insurance companies more freedom to charge more to older Americans, women who may become pregnant and for pre-existing conditions.
It would also have privatized Medicare, giving its clients subsidies to buy insurance, and turning Medicaid into a block grant program for states. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, said Republicans were launching "their first assault in their war on seniors."
Price will run a department with a $1 trillion annual budget to provide health programs insuring more than 100 million people, as well as agencies that regulate food and drugs and sponsor biomedical research.
Steven Mnuchin, Trump's pick for treasury secretary, is set to be voted on Monday after a 53-46 vote to end debate on his nomination. David Shulkin, the pick for secretary of veterans affairs, is also scheduled for a Monday vote.
Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.