The U.S. Senate confirmed Alex Azar as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services by unanimous consent and his nomination passed cloture Tuesday evening by a 54 to 43 vote. President Donald Trump nominated Azar as the permanent replacement for former HHS Secretary Tom Price in November. Price resigned amidst criticism over his travel budget using charter flights in lieu of flying commercial. Azar replaces Eric Hargan who was named acting HHS secretary after Price’s resignation.
Prior to his nomination Azar, 50, was the President of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest division of Eli Lilly and Company, an international biopharmaceutical company, and was responsible for the company’s entire operations in the United States. He had also served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communication at Eli Lilly and Vice President of Lilly’s U.S. Managed Healthcare Services before his promotion to President of Lilly USA.
Azar served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, prior to that appointment he was the Department’s General Counsel.
Azar is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) praised Azar’s confirmation.
Mr. Azar is respected by both Republicans and Democrats and has been unanimously confirmed twice before by the United States Senate. His knowledge and service at the Department of Health and Human Services makes him well qualified for this new role.
I met with Mr. Azar to discuss my concerns over government transparency, responsible stewardship of taxpayer money and prescription drug prices. During our meeting, he assured me that encouraging competition in the health care and pharmaceutical industries and stemming the tide of rising drug prices would be among his top priorities.
I raised with Mr. Azar the importance of whistleblowers, the role they play to keep government accountable and the need to protect them against retribution for their bravery in exposing waste, fraud and abuse. Mr. Azar responded that he wanted to foster a culture at the department that supports whistleblowers and their efforts to keep the department honest.
I congratulate Mr. Azar on his confirmation and look forward to working with him.
Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List also praised Azar’s confirmation. “We congratulate Alex Azar on being confirmed as head of HHS. He takes the reins at a time when major pro-life policy initiatives are being rolled out at this crucial department. Azar’s commitment to HHS’ mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans,’ including unborn children and their mothers, is so encouraging. We are confident that he has the experience and enthusiasm to lead the way in implementing President Trump’s pro-life priorities,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a released statement.
Azar now leads a department that recently launched a new conscience and religious freedom division, as well as, released new proposed regulations that protect medical personnel and medical students who have a moral objection to life-ending drugs, devices or procedures. The Department also recently acknowledged that life begins at conception.