A former clerk for pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will likely become the next HHS Secretary as Senate Republicans successfully tuned back a Democrat filibuster to move forward to a vote to approve Alex Azar today. Azar is President Donald Trump’s latest pro-life nominee to a key administrative position with influence over abortion policy.
Azar, a former top executive at Eli Lilly and Company, will become the new Health and Human Services secretary and replace Tom Price, the pro-life former congressman who left his post in September.
Azar is someone the pro-life movement would appreciate. He previously served under former President George W. Bush as deputy secretary for the health and human services department so he is significantly familiar with the agency and pro-life issues that are important there.
As the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Azar would oversee key pro-life issues such as conscience protections for pro-life medical professionals, the handling of taxpayer funding for abstinence education, and overseeing the Obamacare program that includes taxpayer financing of abortions.
The Hill has more on today’s vote:
The Senate on Tuesday advanced the nomination of Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services over a key hurdle by a 54 to 43 vote.
Most Democrats voted against advancing Azar, but seven Democrats joined Republicans to move his nomination forward. A vote on final confirmation is expected to soon follow.
Two former HHS Secretaries under Bush, Tommy Thompson and Mike Leavitt, wrote in The Hill this month that Azar has “the track record from his previous time at HHS to be a successful manager.”
During his confirmation hearing in the United States Senate, Azar said that decisions the agency makes need to take into consideration conscience issues for Christians who don’t want to be forced to fund abortions.
Azar’s comments are especially helpful for organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and Christian-run businesses like Hobby Lobby that don’t want to be forced by the federal government to pay for abortions or abortion-causing drugs in their employee health insurance plans. The Obama Administration forced them and hundreds of Christian businesses and organizations to fund abortions despite their deeply-held religious views.
Azar’s nomination is seen as a bright light to continue the pro-life policies President Donald Trump has put into place to overturn the mandates the Obama Administration put forward that forced Christians to fund abortion drugs.
Here is more on the relevant line of questioning from the senate committee hearing:
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Azar about this crucial women’s health issue. The Trump administration took steps in October to make it easier for employers to limit coverage of birth control in their employees’ health insurance plans. Murray asked if Azar would commit to putting “science and health care access first,” rather than “ideology and extremism.”
“We have to balance a woman’s choice of insurance with the conscience of their employers,” Azar responded.
But leading pro-abortion groups were not happy, including the pro-abortion Senator, who said: “Women deserve to make their own decisions about their reproductive health, without their employer or the government interfering. I have deep concerns about Alex Azar’s ability to prioritize women’s access to health care over corporations, and I will continue to hold this Administration’s feet to fire as they promote their extreme, anti-women agenda.”
Birth control is not the issue — for example, Hobby Lobby agreed to fund multiple types of birth control. The issue is being forced to fund abortion-causing drugs.
Azar has called Obamacare a “fundamentally broken system.”
“It’s certainly circling the drain,” Azar said in response to a question on Fox Business in May about whether Obamacare was dead. “Obamacare plans are following the laws of economics. If you’re running an insurance company you’ve got to be able to make money. To make money running an insurance company you have to be able to predict risk.”