June 18, 2021

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Xavier Becerra: Biden’s pick to lead HHS heads toward confirmation

2 min read

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Democrat and a Republican, announced they would vote to confirm Becerra despite their differences.

Manchin said that even though they had “very different records” on abortion and the Second Amendment, he and the California attorney general would work well together on Covid relief, rural health care, the drug epidemic and defending the Affordable Care Act, including its insurance protections for those with preexisting conditions. Collins said that she and Becerra shared the goals of safely reopening schools, lowering the price of prescription drugs and “reducing our dependence on foreign countries for drug manufacturing”

“As our nation faces deep divides and a health care crisis that has taken the lives of far too many Americans, we must commit to working together to heal our nation,” Manchin said.

The Senate voted 51-48 Thursday on a motion to discharge Becerra’s nomination out of the Senate Finance committee, an unusual procedure created as part of the power-sharing agreement for the 50-50 Senate in the event a committee deadlocked over a nomination. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee split its vote on Becerra along party lines.

After the senators’ announcement, Democrats are confident that the Senate will vote to confirm him, which could come at the earliest next week.

But Becerra has been controversial in part because he does not have a background in health care. Republicans have also opposed him over his support for abortion rights.

“There’s a reason Mr. Becerra could not get one single Republican vote to move out of committee,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

“It’s because he is such a thoroughly partisan actor with so little subject-matter expertise and such a demonstrated history of hostility toward basic values like the freedom of conscience.”

Before he became attorney general in 2017, he served in the US House for 24 years representing a district in Los Angeles. Becerra has touted his work defending the Affordable Care Act in court and in Congress.

If confirmed, Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, would be the first Latino HHS secretary.

2021-03-11 13:08:36

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