By a vote of 55 to 43 the Senate gave the final ok to the appointment Alex Azar to be the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Azar becomes the second HHS Secretary for the Trump Administration. He fills a vacancy in the Secretary position created when Secretary Tom Price stepped down at the end of last September as a result of expenses and travel controversies. One of the flash points in Azar’s appointment has been his position on controlling prescription drug medication prices. He has indicated his opposition to aggressive government action. Azar is currently a consultant, but he had worked for drug manufacturer Lilly until 2017. He also served at HHS under the George W. Bush Administration.
Another controversy may have also been solved last week with the resignation of Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Weyeneth, in the Office of Drug Control Policy. His credentials had been questioned when it was reported that he worked on the President’s campaign shortly after graduating from college that year and had come to run the office due to vacancies. Against the backdrop of that controversy are reports that the Administration’s next budget (FY 2019) will propose a 95 percent cut in the budget for the Office of Drug Control Policy.