Two Democrats Used A Hearing On Prescription Drug Prices To Grandstand On Immigration

Julia Cohen | Reporter

Two Democratic senators did not ask a single question about prescription drug prices in a Senate Committee on Finance hearing Tuesday on prescription drug prices, instead using their time to ask questions about illegal immigrants.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet spent their entire questioning period in the hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking about HHS’s handling of illegal minors separated from their relatives at the border.

“On Saturday I was not allowed in the detention facility in Homestead, Florida, to speak with the 70 children that I was told that were there, that had been separated from their parents. Do you know what has changed since Saturday with those 70?” Nelson asked as his first question. (RELATED: ICE Protesters Set Up Camp In Front Of LA Detention Center)

Azar told Nelson that while he can arrange a visit to a facility, he cannot interview or depose the children.

“The first and foremost priority is the safety and wellbeing of these children … these are minor children, they’re not there to be deposed or interviewed … we have to protect these children,” Azar said.

Bennet asked if “HHS [had] a role in participating in the design of the administration’s zero tolerance policy at the border.”

“Our role is on receiving the children, not on setting immigration policy,” Azar said.

Bennet also asked if children are treated differently by HHS depending on their country of origin. Azar insisted that HHS “treat[s] all of these children the same.”

Several senators took part of their questioning time to talk about immigration while still using part of the time to talk about prescription drugs. Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow asked about the price of Naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose, but also said the issue of children being separated from their families should be “the top priority for what [HHS is] focused on.”

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Tags : alex azar bill nelson michael bennet
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