WASHINGTON – The Senate narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra to be Health and Human Services secretary on a 50-49 vote Thursday. Becerra, California’s Attorney General, will be the first Latino to maintain the Cabinet place.
As HHS secretary, he’ll play a vital function in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. neared 540,000 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the sole Republican to cross occasion strains and vote in favor of Becerra. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, didn’t vote.
In February, Becerra confronted two days of contentious Senate hearings, the place he harassed he needs to work in a bipartisan trend to reaching the bold targets President Joe Biden has set to battle COVID-19, together with 100 million vaccinations within the administration’s first 100 days, “safely and equitably.” The nation is on track to surpass that objective, probably crossing the mark later Thursday.
Some Republican senators have argued Becerra, a former legal professional with no medical expertise, is unqualified to helm HHS, a $1.4 trillion company with a broad portfolio, in the course of the pandemic.
Speaking from the Senate flooring Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized Republicans who held-up Becerra’s nomination.
Schumer stated their arguments “verge on the ridiculous” and that they “complained loudly that he had no direct experience as a medical professional, even though Republicans voted in lockstep to install Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical executive who raised drug prices and tried to undermine our nation’s health law as the previous HHS Secretary.”
Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY., referred to as Becerra “unqualified” and “radically liberal” whereas opposing his nomination from the Senate flooring Thursday.
Barrasso, who’s a doctor, stated he’s “deeply concerned” that Becerra is “not a doctor, not a scientist, not a public health official.”
“He’s a trial lawyer and a career politician. A global pandemic is no time for on-the-job health care training,” he stated.
Schumer countered that Becerra “by contrast (to Azar), has decades of standing up for working and middle-class Americans in Congress, fighting to protect and expand Medicare, Medicaid, and working to safeguard our health care system from attacks by the Trump administration.”
The core elements of HHS are the boots-on-the-ground a part of the federal government’s coronavirus response. The Food and Drug Administration oversees vaccines and remedies, whereas a lot of the underlying scientific and medical analysis comes from the National Institutes of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes the lead in detecting and containing the unfold of illnesses.
Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee was cut up down occasion strains to transfer Becerra’s nomination to the complete senate, which forced Schumer to hold a floor vote to advance the nomination out of committee.
As California’s legal professional common, Becerra filed greater than 100 lawsuits in opposition to the Trump administration on a large number of points. He led a coalition of Democratic states defending Obamacare from the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn it, a authorized case awaiting a Supreme Court choice this 12 months.
Becerra was one of many highest-ranking Latinos in Congress and represented components of Los Angeles for twenty-four years earlier than he was appointed California legal professional common by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 to fill the emptiness left when Vice President Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 2018, California voters elected Becerra to a full four-year time period as legal professional common.