These Democratic senators—Tom Carper (DE), Chris Coons (DE), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), and Joe Manchin (WV)—haven't particularly distinguished themselves this week. They all voted in favor of the popular vote loser's nominee to head up Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, helping him win confirmation 55-43. Azar is most famous as the former director of U.S. operations for Eli Lilly, and the massive price hikes on basic drugs that happened on his watch.
Those Democrats who voted for him, along with independent Angus King who also voted yes, could have blocked it, easily, because two Republican are not in today and a third—Rand Paul—voted no. But they ignored the compelling case against him made by their colleagues.
Several Democratic senators laid out their rationale for opposing his nomination. Immediately before the vote, the Finance Committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), accused Azar of pushing up drug prices while he led Lilly’s U.S. subsidiary. And contending that the administration has pursued “a health-care agenda of discrimination” against LGBT Americans and women, Wyden said, “when you review the record . . . there is not a shred of evidence Azar is going to try to stop it, reform it or in any way try to make sure those Americans, all of them, get a fair shake.”
Wyden also lashed out at a recent presidential executive order intended to make it easier for people to get skimpy, inexpensive health plans that do not meet ACA coverage requirements. “We’ll see if Mr. Azar is going to look the other way and allow scam artists to peddle junk coverage.”
Wyden is often prescient about these things, but it's not likely that Azar will be anything but a loyal Trumpist. Maybe we can hope he's as blatantly fond of the grift and as corrupt as his predecessor Tom Price, and also be forced to resign.