By acancryn@politico.com (Adam Cancryn)

President Donald Trump MOnday nominated Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and George W. Bush administration official, to serve as his next HHS secretary.

Azar would fill the role vacated roughly a month ago by Tom Price, who resigned after POLITICO reported he spent about a $1 million on private and government air travel.

“He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” Trump tweeted in announcing the decision Monday morning.

A veteran of HHS, Azar built a reputation as a pragmatic and principled — if exacting — manager during earlier stints as the agency’s deputy secretary and general counsel. He later spent nearly a decade at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, eventually rising to become president of its U.S. operations before leaving the company earlier this year.

The nomination comes at a critical point for the Trump administration, which in late October issued an executive order aimed at overhauling the Obamacare markets and loosening insurance regulations. Trump has pledged to take another shot at dismantling the health law in its entirety next year, following the GOP’s string of failed repeal efforts over the summer.

Azar, if confirmed, would take charge of a vast agency that’s floundered since Price came under scrutiny for his lavish travel habits.

But Azar is likely to face pointed questions from Senate Democrats skeptical of his pharmaceutical industry background and previous opposition to ideas aimed at reining in drug prices, like drug reimportation. Trump has repeatedly pledged to crack down on drug makers, but has yet to take significant steps toward following through on that vow.

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Read more here: Trump nominates Alex Azar as HHS secretary

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