Tom Price was confirmed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services last week. The Daily Signal’s Melissa Quinn reports why this is significant.

Now, as the health and human services chief, Price can begin fulfilling a years long goal of unwinding Obamacare. But instead of dismantling the health care law from the halls of Congress, he’ll be acting from inside the agency that oversaw its implementation.

An orthopedic surgeon who served more than a decade in the House, Price has spent the last seven years in Congress opposing the Affordable Care Act. The new HHS secretary introduced his own health care plan in 2009—he’s reintroduced that same proposal, the Empowering Patients First Act, in every Congress since then.

…even as congressional Republicans finalize their course for unwinding the law, Price can now use his executive power to begin chipping away at Obamacare’s framework.

With Congress continuing to drag their feet on Obamacare repeal, Price has a tremendous opportunity to move forward the dismantling of this law.

What do you think Tom Price’s priorities should be for the Department of Health and Human Services?

Heritage is pushing for Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to crack down on federal agencies’ power and undo Obama administration excesses.

Too often, government agencies in the executive branch bypass the legislative process and issue rules with the force of law–and then enforce them on the American people. This administrative state is far from the government the Founders imagined.

The CRA is one of Congress’s best options to reduce the excesses of the administrative state. It allows lawmakers to invalidate agency rulings with a simple majority vote.

“The CRA provides Congress with an opportunity to invalidate an agency rule while satisfying the Article I Bicameralism and Presentment requirements,” Heritage scholar Paul Larkin explains in a detailed report on the CRA’s inner workings.

At an informal working group at Heritage earlier this month, experts from Heritage and other conservative groups helped Capitol Hill staff understand the scope of the law and how it can advance conservative reforms, the Wall Street Journal explained.

To further advance this idea, Heritage is hosting an event next week on “Reawakening the Congressional Review Act.”

Do you believe federal agencies have too much power?

With the launch of Heritage’s new Executive Branch Relations team, you will now have a direct impact on the Trump administration.

Focused on educating, informing, and supporting conservatives in the executive branch, this new team will pave the way in building strong relationships with key agencies in order to push conservative policy priorities.

They will provide Heritage research, host events, and work to ensure that reforms actually get done–not simply discussed.

Here are their top five targeted departments to start:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Secretary Tom Price: We’ll show policymakers in HHS how to administer health care entitlement programs in a patient-centered, market-based way after Obamacare is gone; and how to reverse administrative actions that undermine life and religious liberty.
  • The Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions: We’ll help focus the DOJ on restoring justice and the rule of law. This will mean reviewing and rescinding the transgender bathroom “guidance,” stopping the overuse of federal criminal statutes, and ending the use of “disparate impact” analyses to label free-market policies as racist.
  • The State Department, headed by Secretary Rex Tillerson: We’ll encourage the State Department to rebuild America’s strained alliances, free America from the Iran deal, and make clear which international agreements constitute treaties requiring Senate advice and consent.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Secretary Scott Pruitt: We’ll be a source of guidance for the new EPA on getting rid of Renewable Fuel Standards and greenhouse gas regulations (and other obsolete or unwarranted programs) and encouraging effective, state-based environmental stewardship.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, headed by Secretary John F. Kelly. We’ll share our plans for restoring a secure America after years of ignored and unenforced U.S. immigration law. We’ll provide guidance on securing the border and creating more cooperation between the federal government and the states.

What are your priorities for the executive branch?

Numerous Heritage staff have gone to work in the new administration. We are thankful for their service at Heritage and know they will make a great impact in their respective roles.

You can read the updated list below broken into categories by agency. We will update this list as needed.

The Domestic Policy Council

Paul Winfree, former director of Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Winfree, well known in Washington for his tough stance on fiscal responsibility and transparent budgeting was one of the first Heritage appointments to be publicly announced as a member of the new administration. He is now serving as deputy assistant to the president, deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, and director of budget policy.

Ann Conant, former executive assistant to the vice president of the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity. Conant is serving as assistant to Paul Winfree on President Trump’s Domestic Policy Council.

The Environmental Protection Agency

David Kreutzer, former Heritage senior research fellow, energy economics and climate change. While at Heritage, Kreutzer worked to bring President Obama’s radical EPA back into line with its purpose of protecting land, air, and water – not seizing control of the economy. Kreutzer is now working on a “beachhead team” within the EPA.

Department of Commerce

Michael Costigan, former Heritage senior advisor for strategic outreach. Costigan is currently a member of a beachhead team within the Department of Commerce and will soon be serving as assistant to the Secretary of Commerce.

Department of the Interior

Ryan Nichols, former associate director of coalition relations. Over the past five years, Nichols has helped unite and strengthen the conservative movement. He is working on a beachhead team within the Department of Interior.

Office of Management and Budget

Russ Vought, former Heritage Action vice president of grassroots outreach. At Heritage Action, Vought helped rally conservatives around a vision of a dramatically downsized federal government. He will now take on a high-level position within the Office of Management and Budget.

Department of Labor

James Sherk, former Heritage research fellow, labor economics. Sherk’s research has helped right-to-work states resist union coercion and bad labor policy. Sherk will now take on a role at the Department of Labor.

The Pentagon

Justin Johnson, former Heritage senior policy analyst for defense budgeting policy. While at Heritage, Johnson conducted important research on how to achieve a fully-equipped, combat-ready military, as outlined in his recent Heritage report “Congress Should Enact a Strong Defense Budget in FY 2017.” Johnson will now be working on related matters at the Pentagon.

Department of Transportation

Nick Yonkovich, former Heritage staff accountant. Yonkovich is serving on a beachhead team at the Department of Transportation.


How do you feel about former Heritage staff serving in the administration?

Congressional leaders do not seem concerned with moving Obamacare repeal forward with any sense of urgency.  They’ve had ample time to make good on their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, but following through on that promise doesn’t seem to be high on their priority list.

The longer they wait to repeal Obamacare the harder it will be and the less they will be able to accomplish.

From the beginning, Heritage has pushed for immediate, full repeal of Obamacare. I know you have too and we’re not about to give up the fight.

Read our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Heritage expert Ed Haislmaier testified before Congress last month about Obamacare’s flaws.

Read all Heritage research on Obamacare repeal.

Do you think Congress will act to repeal Obamacare?


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