Three Democratic senators are asking HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to postpone Rep. Tom Price’s hearing for Health and Human Services secretary until the ethics questions swirling around his financial transactions are more thoroughly vetted.
Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) raised concerns over reports that Price traded more than $300,000 in shares of health companies while sponsoring and advocating legislation that could affect their stock prices.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, called for an SEC investigation into whether Price violated the 2011 STOCK Act and other federal laws with his health stock transactions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN on Tuesday that he thinks Price may have broken the law with a purchase of stock in a medical device company.
Franken, Warren and Baldwin wrote Price on Saturday asking him nearly a dozen questions about his stock transactions. Most concerned his investment in Australian biomedical company Innate Immuno. Among other things, they asked whether Price had discussed the company with fellow Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who sits on its board.
Alexander’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) indicated that Price’s stock transactions would be a topic for Wednesday’s hearing.
Numerous news reports have reported that Price’s stock trades coincided with the introduction of legislation. TIME reported today that Price signed off on investments in six pharmaceutical companies about a month before he co-sponsored legislation that would have blocked proposed Medicare changes that would lower reimbursement for many costly drugs.
On Monday, CNN reported that Price bought shares in a medical device company that makes joint replacement just before introducing the HIP Act, which would have delayed Medicare’s bundled payments for comprehensive joint replacement.
Other stories have suggested that Price helped political donors navigate the FDA regulatory process for drugs and devices, and raised concerns over whether Price got a “sweetheart” deal to invest in Innate Immuno.
The Trump team has stated that all of Price’s actions were entirely legal and fully complied with recommendations put forth by the Office of Government Ethics.
The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will not vote on Price’s nomination. The Senate Finance Committee, which must approve his nomination, has not set a hearing date.