Steve Mnuchin (left) and Tom Price
Steve Mnuchin (left) and Tom Price
Last week the U.S. Senate voted on straight party lines, 52-47, to confirm Georgia Congressman Tom Price to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. On Monday, the Senate voted 53-47 to confirm former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin to be the Secretary of Treasury. On both votes, Sen. Susan Collins voted with her Republican colleagues to support the nominees, while Independent Sen. Angus King voted no.

Rep. Tom Price, who is an orthopedic surgeon, has made a name for himself in Congress for his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act as well as opposing funding for Planned Parenthood, contraception and health plans that cover abortion. Price has supported Speaker Paul Ryan’s budget plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program and opposed a law to require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco like a drug. Price also opposed the repeal of the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy for LGBT individuals in the military and supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Secretary Price will oversee 11 agencies including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.  

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is a hedge fund manager who formerly served as CEO of OneWest Bank, a mortgage lender that generated controversy for aggressively foreclosing on and evicting homeowners in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. OneWest has been accused of engaging in “robo-signing,” which involved rapidly signing affidavits on foreclosure documents without checking to see if the documents contained the correct information, creating potentially fraudulent evidence for the courts. The Treasury Secretary has denied that his bank was involved in the practice, but a OneWest employee admitted to signing a document every three minutes in a sworn deposition in 2009. Mnuchin supports repealing portions of the Dodd-Frank law, a series of banking regulations aimed at preventing a future financial crisis. During Senate hearings, Mnuchin was criticized for not immediately disclosing that he managed a business entity in the Cayman Islands, a known offshore tax haven. 

Sen Susan Collins’ office did not release a statement on her votes to confirm the two cabinet nominees. Below is a statement from Sen. Angus King. 

“As I have for all Cabinet nominees, I closely followed Congressman Price’s confirmation hearing and extensively evaluated his record, and after doing so, I have concluded that he would not serve the best interests of Maine and the country as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Principally, I am concerned that his longtime support for the privatization of Medicare is unnecessary and would not only make health care less accessible for thousands of Maine seniors, but also make it more expensive, forcing them to reach deeper into their pockets when many are already trying to make ends meet on limited and fixed incomes. Additionally, I believe that his total opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and his unwillingness to offer meaningful improvements, would strip more than 75,000 people in Maine of their health care, drive up costs for thousands more, and destabilize rural hospitals across the state, which would have catastrophic consequences for the towns and people they serve — not to mention the local economies they support.



It was these same Maine people, small towns, and communities who were at the forefront of my mind when I considered Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination. While I am not reflexively opposed to the former CEO of a large financial institution heading the Treasury Department, I want to know that that person will be a champion for hardworking families in Maine and across the country — and, unfortunately, I have not found anything in his record that would indicate that he would even try to defend, let alone champion, their financial interests. In fact, it seems that some of the lending practices conducted by his company — that he knew about — denied justice to Maine citizens who, in some cases, may have lost their homes as a result. It just doesn’t seem to me that Mr. Mnuchin would put hardworking people, homeowners, small businesses, rural economies, or any of the foundations of Maine’s economy first.

For these reasons, I intend to oppose the nominations of Congressman Price and Mr. Mnuchin.”

Senator King has voted to confirm James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, Mike Pompeo as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations, Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and Elaine Chao as Secretary of Labor. He has voted against Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and, in committee, voted against Mick Mulvaney’s nomination as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and said he will again vote against Mulvaney when Mulvaney’s confirmation goes before the full Senate, likely later this week. King has also announced his intention to oppose Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (a Senate vote on Pruitt may take place this week)

Some Other Recent Senate Votes:

• On Feb. 7: Prohibit Sen. Elizabeth Warren to speak on Senate floor when debating Sen. Sessions’ nomination to be U.S. Attorney General
The Senate voted (49-43, 8 not voting) to sustain the ruling of the presiding officer (Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines) in which — in response to Senator Mitch McConnell’s objection — he prohibited Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the Senate floor for the remainder of the debate concerning Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination. The presiding officer ruled that Sen. Warren violated Senate Rule 19 prohibiting senators from “imputing” one another. 

Sen. Susan Collins voted YES

Sen. Angus King voted NO


• Disapprove Stream Buffer Rule — Passed Feb. 2 (54-45, 1 not voting) — The bill disapproved the Interior Department’s Stream Buffer Rule requiring that surface coal mining operations be designed to minimize the amount of waste placed outside the mined-out area. 

Sen. Susan Collins voted NO

Sen. Angus King voted NO


• Disapprove disclosure of payments by resource extraction issuers rule — Passed Feb. 3 (52-47, 1 Not Voting) — The measure disapproves of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule issued in July 2016 that required resource extraction issuers (companies that extract oil, natural gas or minerals) that are registered in the United States to provide detailed, public reporting of certain payments to governments that equal or exceed $100,000 per project annually.

Sen. Susan Collins voted YES

Sen. Angus King voted NO