Had Republicans gained control of the Senate, libertarian-esque Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared to be in line to be the next chairman of the Senate committee focused on health.
Democrats retained their Senate majority, however, and now it looks like openly declared democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will chair that incredibly important health committee in the upper chamber of Congress, The Hill reported.
Now, instead of a Paul-led committee working to hold government health officials accountable, a Sanders-led committee will seek to impose various progressive policies that will grant more power to those government officials and will launch leftist assaults against pharmaceutical companies and the private healthcare market.
Bernie Sanders to lead health committee
Sen. Sanders let it be known on Thursday that he would seek the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, or HELP Committee, which is currently chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who in turn is seeking the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee
A spokesman for Sanders, Mike Casca, said in a statement about his boss, “As chairman of the committee, he will focus on universal health care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, increasing access to higher education, and protecting workers’ rights on the job.”
Given that Republicans will control the House, Sanders will be unable to realize his dream of pushing through “Medicare-for-all” legislation, but that won’t stop him from using the committee as a platform to continue pushing the progressive policy or others like it, including targeting private health care industry companies and executives.
Bill Cassidy likely to be ranking minority member
The Washington Post reported that in addition to Sen. Sanders seeking to chair the Senate HELP Committee, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has made known his interest in being named as the ranking minority member on the panel in place of Sen. Paul, who has set his sights elsewhere.
Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, is a relatively moderate member of the GOP establishment who is unlikely to rock the boat and upset the status quo like Paul would have, though it is also unclear just how much bipartisanship and common ground may be found between him and the far-left Sanders.
Though he would be limited in the minority, the Post noted that Cassidy would likely try to push the committee to exert more oversight of the Biden administration’s implementation and enforcement of various healthcare-related laws.
Yet, the Post also noted that Sanders may also be constrained in his role as chair, in light of the fact that he would need to build consensus support among not just his fellow progressive leftist Democrats but also the more centrist moderates of the party plus at least some members of the Republican minority.
Rand Paul still intent on providing government oversight
As for Sen. Paul, who likely would have used the health panel chairmanship to go after federal bureaucrats like Dr. Anthony Fauci and sharply scrutinize federal health agencies and programs, particularly with regard to the federal pandemic response and origin of the COVID-19 virus, he is now looking to be the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, according to The Hill.
Politico reported that Paul said in a statement Thursday, “Given the committee’s duty to conduct oversight over the entire government, I remain hopeful that we will pursue a robust and bipartisan investigation into the origins of Covid.”