Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said Thursday she would support President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Heitkamp is the second Democratic senator to publicly support nominee Alex Azar, and joins Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Both senators are up for re-election in 2018 in states that went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.
Heitkamp called Azar, a former pharmaceuticals executive and HHS veteran under the George W. Bush administration, “incredibly competent.”
“I don’t share a lot of his philosophy, but he understands, as someone who has been in the administration, the importance of the rule of law and compliance,” she added. “I believe I can work with him in the future, especially on Indian health.”
The support from Manchin and Heitkamp makes Azar's confirmation even easier. Azar won't need Democratic support to be confirmed in the GOP-led Senate, but support from Democrats will let Republicans say he had bipartisan support.
Still, some Democrats have railed against Azar, and have said that he raised the prices of multiple drugs while he was the head of Eli Lilly’s U.S. division from 2012 to 2017. Democrats are skeptical that Azar will do enough to rein in drug prices.