Senate confirms Xavier Becerra as first Latino to lead HHS

The Senate voted 50-49 Thursday to confirm Xavier Becerra as secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.

Why is this important: Becerra, the first Latino to lead the department, is now tasked with overseeing the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic while running much of the Biden administration’s health program.

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The context: Becerra was one of President Biden’s members the most controversial candidates. He has sued the Trump administration more than 100 times while the California state attorney general and Republicans, who widely opposed the confirmation, said he was unqualified for the job.

  • Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only GOP voice for Becerra.

  • To advance Becerra’s nomination, the full Senate voted last week to bypass the finance committee, who was deadlocked on his appointment.

  • Republicans criticized his lack of health care experience and past support for Medicare for All and abortion, while Democrats feared delays in Becerra’s confirmation could hamper the US response to the pandemic.

To note : Becerra’s confirmation also leaves another date with California Governor Gavin Newsom.

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