tv Senate Democrats Call for Ethics Investigation of HHS Nominee Tom Price CSPAN January 5, 2017 10:47pm-11:15pm EST
[inaudible conversations] good morning. i am proud to be here with my friends and colleagues and the ranking member. just this week house republicans met behind closed doors and when they came out they shocked the world by announcing the first order of business in the people's house was not going to help millions of americans get health care or pass legislation to raise income or find jobs. the first order of business was to try to get the independent ethics committee just as the hearings for the cabinet abominations were beginning. hearings for the nominees like tom price secretary of
hhs. republicans backed off their crusade for now but it begs the question, who were they trying to protect? last the wall street journal published just before the holidays he had reportedly traded more than $300,000 of shares of roughly 40 health care and pharmaceutical companies while simultaneously pushing and advocating for legislation on the federal level that could impact the company's stock prices. i will repeat. the president elect picked for hhs treated hundreds of thousands of dollars of health-related stocks while the senior member of congress advocated and voted for federal legislation to impact those very companies stock prices.
i will we mind you his influence and access to information on these issues was second to none and as teacher the house budget committee and sat on ways and means and a member of the republican caucus and congressman price didn't simply vote on the health care bills when they came to the floor but championed them. according to the wall street journal the last congress he sponsored nine and co-sponsored 35 health-related bills in the house right before congress ended, at with the massive new bill from a new letter released today by the public watchdog group to raise serious questions about whether this bill that speeds up drug approval by the fda would benefit the stock owned by the congress and. since the bill passed last
month the stock has doubled in value. it wasn't just one small trade. no. in fact, he made over 70 trades in just one day and purchased thousands of dollars of stock in a single health care company. bottom line, congressman price has the influence and actively involved to push health care policy while simultaneously making dozens of trade in companies to be impacted by those policies. he did this repeatedly and in such large numbers he is likely to of made tens of thousands of dollars on one trade alone. every american should be shocked. so today we are here to call on the house ethics to see
if any laws were broken. we don't know. would there is enough serious questions to warrant a serious investigation before any hearing is held on congressmen price to become secretary of hhs. he passed into lot a few years ago which prohibited insider trading by members of congress. and his worth noting that we can add to this investigation as an outside the house entity with the house republicans that had their way on monday he would not be allowed to do this. as with colleagues have outlined we have a series of questions that demand that congressman price must answer before any hearings on the price nomination can begin related to this issue. is serious stuff.
so we need full hearings a plenty of questions and full disclosure. we do
not believe anything should be rushed through. >> senator schumer yes this is a very serious issue and frankly it is pretty simple. when you serve in the united states government, whether a congressman or senator for a cabinet secretary or the president of the united states, you were there to serve the people, not yourself per collier job is to think about how workers and families, not your own bank account can be impacted by decisions made in washington d.c.. any suggestion that any elected official republican are democrat has fallen short of the basic standard must be taken seriously. as the result of recent concerning reports on his
stock holdings during his time in the house of representatives, i and members of the health committee have questions that have to be answered before this nomination can advance we want to know who he met with and when if the transactions in question were initiated by a broker or the congressman himself if there is any nonpublic information had when those transactions were made and exactly how much profit he made from each transaction. we will look into these questions very carefully. i hope that the partisan politics to not keep republicans from insisting on a thorough investigation of the congressmen price investment into parties have agreed before elected officials should not be able to benefit financially from
using information they have access to as a result of their officials role. this time should be no different irish republicans to work with us that we have all the facts in front of us better fully reviewed before the nomination advances. that is what our constituents deserve and with that i will turnover. >> they both have said it very well. let me just add a couple of additional points. if you are not a public official, making smart investments is that. it is smart. if you are a public official however, at a minimum you have to be sensitive to appearances of conflicts of interest.
this is not political. independent authorities even the bush said ministrations has made exactly the same points per closer to me if you have used your position as a public official to get inside information, that is a serious ethical breach. there are reports, materials about congressman price that warrant a careful and thorough review with regard to investments in industry that he would directly regulate if he is confirmed to lead the department of health and human services. simply put, there is enough here that if you are serious about oversight, you cannot simply say it is all like
twins since and then just move on. the finance committee has the strong history of vetting the nominees that come before the committee democrat or publican to look for example at 2009 across the surface issues than but the reality is we have done it by the book and for issues on both sides. the process of the united states senate cannot and must not be a giant rubber stamp and we are here to tell you that simply will not be the case and senator murray outlined a number that they are involved in
this issue and we'll understand that if dr. price is confirmed would be responsible for the health care of over 100 million americans that depend on the lifeline of medicare and medicaid to make decisions that amount to life and death for some americans. is imperative we get to the bottom of these issues as the american people need the assurance that no public
official has abused their offical position for personal profit. >> we will take questions on this subject. >> republicans have indicated on the confirmation hearings wilder
republicans and democrats are confident that as the nomination moves forward, they are voting for someone they have the information on. we have a responsibility to make a vote coming eac, each of us rn and democrat. we shouldn't do it on these nominees until these questions are answered. >> when you look what's on the public record, are you just going to say this is all a coincidence and we will move on? that's not what our responsibility is about. these nominations and why we support what leadership or is
talking about -- they involve hundreds of billions of dollars. they involve enforcing years and years of law. they involve life and death decisions. and we are making it clear the senate is out of the rubberstamping business. it's not going to happen anymore. >> if there would ever be an example that the president elect promised to clear outcome it would be the congressmen, senators using the inside information they have to benefit themselves personally by buying stock. as we said, we are in accountability. we will hold people accountable. and this is a glaring example of the need for accountability and oversight. >> a question on the cabinet level position. president-elect trump signaled he may not fill the role, but he
voted to create the rollback in 2004. does the nation still need a director? >> [inaudible] >> look at the comments that have been made on television over the last few weeks. it seems the president elect is more sympathetic than mr. a assange. the office of intelligence is an extraordinarily important position. it was designed to break down the wall that kept the agencies from sharing information. we all understand what policies in short you have security and liberty. and i would like to see some of the details with respect to what the president elect is talking about on intelligence, and i'm
not willing to just say without any additional information top this position. it's supposed to ensure information is shared -- panic in the briefings have intelligence officials expressed any briefings about the skepticism about the findings? >> we are not getting into anything classified, but obviously intelligence officials going back to october 6, 2 of october -- they said they were very troubled about the interference in the election. >> [inaudible] >> i have not kept. >> i have, and i remain very concerned. >> so you met with him yesterday, i believe. what did he say to you about why he created these industries he's
overseeing and is there any information whether he thinks he violated this act? >> i'm not going to discuss what we talked about in private, but it is part of why i believe so strongly today we need a serious investigation. we all have a right to hear, not just a private meeting. >> this kind of discussion about something so serious -- we have to hear what he said in public, not in private to one person or another. as it relates to the point you asked earlier on the process, doctor price is not yet furnished the documents that have been part of a 20 year bipartisan tradition the finance committee has used.
we will vote up or down on doctor price, so we are going to do it by the book. we are going to do it the way that we have for more than 20 years. i would point out in 2009, that is what we did with tim geithner and tom daschle. you asked with respect disruptions and the like, what we are doing is exactly the way finance committee has done for more than 20 years in a bipartisan fashion. >> one more on this subject and then we will open it up -- >> securities exchange commission, will they be allowed to investigate -- >> the media place to get the investigation is the office of congressional efforts because they are empowered to do this.
we have a new sec commissioner, so that will take quite a bit of time. if we want this information before congressman price comes to a hearing, that is the best way to go. speaking for myself, i have no qualms about the sec looking into it themselves. >> [inaudible] is this a timeline for when they review things in when they can release the report on time before we know anything about this? >> there is an obligation to the american people to answer questions senators murray and wyden have asked and that have arisen from the trading of legislation that passed comfortablconcurrently to be ma. the nomination should wait a while. okay, we will go to other subjects if you wish as well.
>> [inaudible] >> in my view, they have to be very careful, and even avoid any appearance of conflict, which most do. and personally, i don't know of any stocks because i don't want to be accused of an appearance. we will go to other issues. >> one last one -- if you think about updating the stock acts, should congress members the trading actively in stock markets? >> some of us would have wanted the stock acts to be stronger than it was, but it's certainly they are on the books, and first step let's see if congressman price violated the act with an investigation. >> can i ask one more question on the timing? it may take a little while to do an investigation, but i do think that the trump administration but also one that investigation to be completed.
so, the last thing i would think any administration would want, is to have someone become the secretary of health and human services or any other place and find out now they have violated a law. they don't want to be in a position. it's in their best interest and our best interest as republicans and democrats to have those answers and to be clear about it before confirmed. >> a slightly different question about tom price. he said things about contraception and if he gets into hhs, he could take action to have the mandate on the aca. how do you intend to try to stop him on women's health? >> he has a history on women's health and i have no doubt he will continue that. members of congress and senate would have to vote on him and passed the investigation separate from that. they would have to ask
themselves if they are comfortable with someone overseeing the public health, that has made comments about medicaid and medicare, about women's health and a series of issues -- those are part of each senator will have to ask themselves if they are comfortable with the code separate from this investigation. >> let me add a sentence on that, because the finance committee is to pay for committee. we are essentially the committee that pays for programs with medicaid and medicare, and we are goin not going to let these hearings go forward. where you are talking about health policy that touches on decades and decades of efforts to expand protection for vulnerable women, we are not just going to have those hearings and pretend those issues are not important. they are going to be front and center at the confirmation hearing, and we have the direct responsibility for the finance committee to essentially come up
with the money for programs like medicare, medicaid and tax aspects to the policy. we are going to make sure that the country does not -- withoutt a conversation -- turn its back on decades of progress in terms of expanding health care choices for vulnerable women. >> senator schumer, you seem to be the latest on the donald trump name calling. he's called you a clown, how are you able to work with him and change the public sentiment against democrats as he rallies republicans on obamacare? >> here's what i say to the president elect, this is serious, serious stuff. people's health is at stake and people's lives are at stake. now we understand that the president elect trump isn't a difficult spot and republicans are in a difficult spot. they want to appeal aca and have
no idea how to replace it, but instead of calling names, president elect should roll up his sleeves and show a replacement plan that will cover the 20 million americans who gain coverage and will cover students or post college students 21 to 26 that want to stay on their parents plan. that will show how we cover people with pre-existing condition so i would say to the president-elect and republicans that this is not a time for calling names. it's time for them to step up to the plate if they want to repeal and show us what they would replace it. >> oce, have you any offices like those? >> a complaint has been filed by public citizen's this morning. one more question.
>> [inaudible] [laughter] >> two questions on this. oce doesn't move forward on the scheduled hearings, what is your response at that point, congressman price, and are you more concerned about him than the nomination at this point? >> just speaking an speaking anl my colleagues address it, too. there are eight that we've highlighted with the most concern, although there are others of concern as well. every one deserves a full, thorough hearing after filing all the necessary documents. almost none of them -- even a very small number filed the necessary documents. senator mcconnell says well, all these nominees were approved in 2009 very quickly, they've all filed their papers way in advance and have given the relevant committees time to explore the answers on those papers, and then they move
forward. we are not going to rush this. it's too important for the american people. who knows -- "the wall street journal" wrote the initial article on the congressman price. who knows what else will come up? okay, "the wall street journal" had an article about it. they may not have been the first. >> i will just tell you this is an important nomination, and we've been talking about issues certainly related to pharmaceutical -- we've got millions of americans walking on an economic tightrope every month, balancing food bills, rent bills, prescription drug bills. this is an enormously important appointment and i take it personally. [inaudible] a senior citizens group, and our
credo is that medicare is a guarantee. it's a guarantee of defined benefits. it's a promise, a promise and a guarantee. and certainly, there's stuff in the nominee's background to suggest he's walking back on the guaranteed benefits. you ask is this important and i think all three of us would tell you it is important, and as far as the american people are concerned, this particular agency touches the lives of millions and millions of the most vulnerable americans, and you bet this is right up at the top of our priority list. >> thank you, everybody. next, house speaker paul ryan on the plan to repeal the