Schumer Remarks on Investigating the Questionable Stock Purchases Made by Rep. Price and the Congressional Budget Office Report on the Consequences of Repealing Health Reform

January 17, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor about the passing of long-time floor staff member Tim Mitchell, the doubt cast on Rep. Tom Price based on a history of legislation that benefitted his stock purchases and the legitimacy of the CBO report.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, following my friend, the Republican Leader’s Remarks, we received sad news yesterday. We lost a dear friend to many of us here in the Senate, a wonderful man, Tim Mitchell. He had a long battle with brain cancer. He was a member of the floor staff here for many years and did just an amazingly outstanding job.

You know, Mr. President, every organization has what they call “unsung heroes.” On the battlefield, they are the soldiers, our infantrymen and women.  In the automobile plant, they are the assembly line workers. In the hospital they may be the nurses. Those organizations can’t go on without these people. They’re the heart and soul of these organizations. They do their work quietly but proudly.

Well, if you had to pick someone who personified the “unsung hero” of this body, it would be Tim.

He did his job every day. When you talked to him, you could see the pride and the knowledge he had in doing his job and doing  his job well.

He will be sorely missed by every member here today, Democrat and Republican. So let’s take a moment to remember Tim and send our best wishes and prayers to his family and loved ones. Thank you, Mr. President.

Now, Mr. President, I’d like to address a troubling report about the President-elect’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services that came out last night.

We learned that Congressman Price bought shares in a medical device manufacturing company just days before introducing legislation in the House that would directly benefit that company.

His legislation wasn’t broad legislation, it didn’t affect the health care industry in general…it specifically blocked a regulation on medical device companies that do hip and knee implants, including the very business he bought stock in.

According to CNN, the company that Price bought stock in was one of two companies that would have been hit hardest by the new regulation. One of two, and he puts in legislation to repeal it just after buying stock in it.  Again, this is not someone who has Johnson & Johnson Stock and then votes to cut Medicare. These are specific; this is a narrow company that works on hip and knee implants; narrow legislation that deals with undoing some regulations on them. It’s really troubling.                                                  

These revelations, Mr. President,  come on top of a reports late last year by CQ and the Wall Street Journal that Congressman Price had traded stocks in dozens of health care companies valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars during his time as Chair on the Budget Committee, when he introduced, sponsored, or co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that potentially impacted those companies.

Yesterday’s report makes it clear that this isn't just a couple of questionable trades, but rather a clear and troubling pattern of Congressman Price trading stock and using his office to benefit the companies in which he is investing.

Our President-elect claims he wants to drain the swamp, but Congressman Price has spent his career filling it up.

So I’ve asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether or not Congressman Price violated the STOCK Act during his time in office before his nomination moves forward in any way.

Mr. President, it may well be that this trade was illegal.

Now, this isn’t a witch hunt. These are serious and disquieting allegations. The American people deserve to know if their potential Secretary of HHS violated a law against insider trading in Congress. The facts here - a narrow company with hip and knee implants; legislation with hip and knee implants coming out soon thereafter he bought stock. Whoa. These questions cry out for answers. Answers before- let me underline “before” nominee Price goes before the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. President, when the public faith in government is as low as it is today; when politics and campaigns are as saturated by money as they are today; when folks feel that their representatives are beholden to special interests before their constituents…reports like the one that just came out about Congressman Price perpetuate that distrust. They add fuel to the fire.

So, Mr. President, we need to get to the bottom of these allegations.                                                   

The only way to restore faith in our government is as low as it is today, when politics in campaigns are saturated by money, as they are today, when folks feel their representatives are beholden to special interests before their constituents, reports like the one that just came out about congressman Price perpetuate that distrust. They add fuel to the fire. So Mr. President, we need to get to the bottom of these allegations and get to the bottom of them quickly. The only way to restore faith in our government and our most important democratic institutions is to insist upon transparency and ethical behavior by those in positions of the highest public trust.

Until a Congressional Ethics investigation can be completed, this report and his previous trades cast serious doubt on whether Congressman Price is fit to hold the office of Secretary for Health and Human Services.

Now, Mr. President, I’d like to turn to the C.B.O. Report that just came out today. The Congressional Budget Office just today released a new report outlining the consequences of the Republican plan to repeal to the Affordable Care Act.                                                                                                 

Remember, Mr. President, the CBO is a nonpartisan entity.

The numbers don’t lie.                                             

And try as they might, our Republican colleagues can’t discredit them.      

The numbers are even worse than experts could have imagined: Repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean tens of millions will lose their health insurance and individuals will see their premiums double. Let me repeat that, if the Republican Bill passes, according to C.B.O., nonpartisan, tens of millions will lose their health insurance and individuals will see premiums double.

32 million Americans would lose their health insurance; 18 million within the first year of repeal.

The report makes it crystal clear that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs for millions of Americans and kick millions more off of their health insurance.

No wonder President-elect Trump realizes that repeal without replace is the real disaster. No wonder he’s admonished the congress not to do plain repeal.

Some Republicans have tried to dismiss the CBO report as “meaningless.” I remind my Republican friends of two points. First, this is the CBO director that Republicans hand-picked. This is not some democratic operative. He’s a person who knows numbers, who was chose by our Republican colleagues. You can’t reject his findings. Second, this is your repeal bill that the CBO is analyzing. They didn’t make up the scenario. They took the exact bill that we’ve had on the floor here and said what are going to be the consequences. Devastating. Over 30 million losing coverage, premiums doubling, all the things that our colleagues are complaining about with A.C.A. are even worse under their bill and their complaints on A.C.A. are incorrect. We gained numbers and costs have gone down. The rate of cost has gone down much lower than they would be under this report.  So I’d say to my colleagues this is your repeal bill. The C.B.O didn’t make this up. It looked at the bill that you sent to the President’s desk,  the bill that you say your repeal bill was modeled on.

It isn’t “meaningless,” it’s your plan.

Now that “repeal” is real and not just a political exercise, the tide is turning.

The American people are becoming roused by the prospects of dismantling health reform and leaving chaos in its wake.

This is exactly why Republican members of Congress are getting an earful back home from constituents who want them to turn back from their dangerous plan to make America sick again.

I would urge my Republican colleagues to listen to the growing outcry before it’s too late.

One final issue, Mr. President, hearings that we’ve been having. As the hearings continue this week on the President-elect’s cabinet nominees, cabinet nominees, I want to make a few points.                           

As I’ve mentioned here on the floor several times, we Democrats want the process to be as fair and transparent as possible, abiding by all the ethics requirements demanded of nominees in the past.

And yet, the HELP Committee today will hold a hearing on Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos – worth $5 billion, owns an investment company with untold financial entanglements – despite the fact that she doesn’t have a signed ethics agreement in place.   When somebody has such wealth and complicated holdings, we have always made them sign an ethics agreement that says here’s how I’m going to divest so there’s no conflict of interest. So it’s clear the nominee is doing things for their country, not for their financial holdings. But we don’t have it.  We’re rushing ahead with hearings in the HELP committee. My dear friend who I have so much respect for, the chair, the senator from Tennessee, is just rushing forward, rushing forward. Not a good way to start, Mr. President. Not a good way for my Republican colleagues or the President- elect to start.  

And then we have Wilbur Ross. He’s nominee for Commerce. He’s a billionaire. We have a cabinet loaded with billionaires despite how President-elect Trump campaigned.  Wilbur Ross is a billionaire with vast and complicated holdings. Now he just delivered his paperwork yesterday. His hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. The paperwork is very complicated and when you have $1 billion, it’s not just in U.S. treasuries, but they’re rushing forward. The Committee needs some time to review those documents before a hearing. I’m hopeful we can move it back.

And then there’s the fact that tomorrow there are four hearings. We’ve asked the Majority to space out the hearing schedule so that members, who all sit on multiple committees can have the time to prepare and attend all the hearings. That’s going to be very difficult for many members tomorrow.

We have tried to cooperate with my friend, the Majority Leader. These are not good signs. They don’t bode well and you can see why the president –elect and Republicans are trying to rush these nominees through.

The President-elect promised to change the way America operates; to oppose elites and the “rigged system,” to clean the swamp ,  and pay attention to working families.

But now he’s rigging his Cabinet with billionaires and bankers.

It’s exactly the opposite of what the President-elect campaigned on, so they’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible.

The Less scrutiny, the better. They don’t want these people exposed for who they are and what they represent. Oh no. That’s not fair to the American people.

They deserve the chance to get a good look at these nominees.