US Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, 24 January Reuters/Carlos Barria

In a vote predictably split down party lines, the Senate cast their ballots at 2am GMT on Friday (10 February) after a heated debate to confirm Republican Tom Price as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Health.

Senators voted 52-47 in the middle of the night after Democrats in a long-drawn-out debate and vote that lasted about 16 hours.

The Republican's second-in-command in the Senate, Texan John Cornyn said that Democrats have gone on a campaign of "obstruction" against Trump's cabinet nominees, which flew in the face of the president's electoral victory.

The vote marked just the most recent example of stand- offs against Trump's cabinet picks in the Senate, including tedious sessions to confirm Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week.

Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, so all of Trump's cabinet picks have passed the vote despite bitter opposition from Democrats. Republicans would have to vote against their party to tip the balance.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) will head the US Health and Human Services Department. An orthopaedic surgeon, Price has served as House Budget Committee congressman and has been a representative of the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, for the past 11 years.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Price's confirmation the "first assault" in the Republicans' "war on seniors" because of his support for revamping the Medicare programme for the elderly.

In 2011 Price also led Republican efforts in the House of Representatives to pass the Protect Life Act, which bars women from health insurance plans that cover abortions under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Price has tabled detailed legislation to replace Obamacare for years and many of his ideas are laid out in the Republican Better Way plan. It looks at overhauling the entire healthcare system. One of Price's aims is to replace Obamacare with a system of tax credits that those who are uninsured can use to buy health coverage.

So far Republicans have not agreed to table a comprehensive bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act at the same time. Republicans have said they were waiting on a new secretary of health before moving forward.

"He seems to have no higher priority than to terminate health coverage for millions of people," said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) of Price's confirmation, citing his position on limiting women's access to free birth control as "wrong" and "arrogant".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Price, 62, "knows more about health care policy than just about anyone", and will "bring stability to healthcare markets that Obamacare has harmed".