On Thursday, The Senate voted to make it President Joe Biden’s nomination for Health and Human Services, as Democrats overcame Republican resistance using a novel mechanism designed to prevent gridlock in the Senate’s evenly split chamber. On Xavier Becerra’s candidacy, the Senate Committee on Finance divided 14-14 in the same political party earlier this month. In the past, a tie vote would have hindered a nomination, but with the Senate’s current law, that was more like a speed trap than a stop sign for Democrats.
Senate Majority figurehead Chuck Schumer forced a vote on Becerra’s appointment to be discharged on Thursday, which passed 51-48. The voting opens the way for a floor debate on his confirmation.
Democrats Go On With Biden’s Health-Care Pick
Before the debate, Schumer said, “I’m puzzled that no one of my Republican colleagues will vote for him.” “He’s a capable person. He has worked diligently to guarantee that people have access to health care.” Biden’s previous Cabinet nominees have gained bipartisan approval, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“There’s an explanation Mr. Becerra couldn’t get a single vote for Republicans to move the bill out of committee,” McConnell said. “It’s because he’s such a zealously biased actor who knows very little about the subject.”
Biden is also one step closer to becoming the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, a central player in the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Becerra is currently the Attorney General of California, and he previously served in the United States House of Representatives for more than 20 years, serving the Los Angeles area. He specialized in seeking to stop Trump administration conduct as attorney general, filing nine cases on Trump’s last full day in the office alone and dragging the Trump management to court more than 120 times over four years.
Senator Ron Wyden urged the Senate to accept Schumer’s discharge motion, citing Becerra’s background as a House Ways and Means Committee member and as Attorney General. Becerra, he added, was in control of a $1 billion budget and 4,000 workers. “This is the work of someone who understands how to operate a massive government organization,” Wyden added.
Republicans also expressed scepticism about Becerra’s advocacy for abortion rights. Senator John Thune, R-South Dakota, said Becerra “aggressively crusaded in support of abortion” as attorney general and “repeatedly introduced California into abortion cases affecting other states.”
President Biden’s nominations have included a variety of eligible, mainstream candidates, according to Thune. “Xavier Becerra is not a well-known figure in the political world. He’s an extremist who’s using his positions to push an overtly pro-abortion platform while still attacking civil rights and freedom of conscience.”
During his time in the House, Becerra, 63, was a staunch Democrat supporter of abortion rights. He wasn’t, though, a significant player. Immigration, health care, and education were three of his priorities. After Becerra was named Attorney General of California in 2017, views started to change. While his office claims that just four of the 124 cases Becerra brought against the former government concerned with contraception, reproductive control, or faith rights — both of which are important topics for social conservatives. He sued the Trump administration over the abortion limits. Becerra challenged a California bill that mandated crisis pregnancy centers to have abortion details to the United States Supreme Court but lost.