WASHINGTON – It all comes down to this for Tom Price.
The Senate voted Wednesday evening to allow up to 30 hours of floor debate on the Roswell Republican’s nomination to be secretary of health and human services.
When it’s all over, likely in the wee hours of Friday morning, we’re expecting Price will be put in charge of a federal agency with a roughly $1 trillion annual budget.
Senators just voted 51-48 along strict party lines to advance Price’s nomination. From here, senators will take turns giving speeches on the Senate floor.
Democrats do not appear to have the votes to stop Republicans from confirming the seven-term congressman, so their only way of registering dissent is through blistering floor speeches and perhaps some procedural delay tactics.
What’s unclear is to what degree the debate will take on the same nakedly partisan tone as the one that characterized consideration of Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general.
The same obscure Senate rule Republican leaders invoked Tuesday evening to rebuke Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren for personally attacking a colleague isn’t applicable when it comes to Price since he, unlike Sessions, isn’t a senator. But it’s possible the ill-will created by the prolonged scuffle over President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees could lead to more procedural fights via the Senate rulebook.
Democrats, long unhappy with Price due to his stock trades and health care views, have shown they won’t let his confirmation advance without a fight.
Top Senate Democrats met with progressive activists on Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday to make one last push for Republican leaders to postpone a final vote on Price. They said the Senate should hold off until all of their ethics inquiries regarding his finances are “fully answered." They peppered their social media posts with the hashtag “#PriceIsWrong.”
It appeared to go unnoticed by Price's Republican allies.