Senate Will Likely Confirm Tommy Thompson Today
The Senate will hold a confirmation vote for HHS Secretary-designate and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) today, with many Democrats predicting that he will do a well at "a very tough job" despite their policy differences with him on some issues, the AP/New York Times reports. During hearings last week with the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Democrats voiced their approval of Thompson while expressing some "philosophical differences." Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), said, "He's more than up to the task. I don't mean to imply that I expect to agree with every position of our about-to-be secretary. There clearly are some issues on which we disagree, say a woman's right to choose. That said, I think Mr. Thompson is the right person for a very tough job." Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) also said he would vote to confirm Thompson, but he questioned the success of the nation's welfare reform programs, which Thompson helped lead as governor of Wisconsin. "Too often we define reform as reduction of caseload. The question is whether or not these families were able to move from welfare to economic self sufficiency. The question is whether or not we've reduced the poverty," Wellstone said. But Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) praised Thompson, saying, "Some people think it's possible to do welfare reform on the cheap and we simply set time limits and push people off of a cliff at the end of a period of time. Gov. Thompson doesn't approach welfare reform that way. For Tommy Thompson, it's meant spending more money on child care, spending more money on health care" (AP/New York Times, 1/24).
While Thompson was waiting to be confirmed, Surgeon General David Satcher has been running HHS. CongressDaily reports that Satcher "has not decided whether to serve out the remainder of his term" as Surgeon General, which continues for another year (Rovner, CongressDaily, 1/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.