Schumer moves to bring up Becerra’s nomination after committee tie

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday moved to bring Xavier Becerra’s nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services to the full Senate after a committee deadlocked on advancing President Biden’s nominee to lead the agency.

This is the first time Schumer has had to try to force a nomination out of committee, a step he can take under the rules governing the 50-50 Senate. 

“It’s confounding to me that Mr. Becerra … did not get some votes from the other side of the aisle. He is an eminently qualified member. He was an outstanding member of Congress, he was a very good attorney general, and he has led the charge to keep people’s health care,” Schumer said.  

If Republicans are opposed to Becerra because of his defense of the Affordable Care Act, Schumer added that he would be “surprised. It’s yesterday’s news.”  

Under the rule invoked by Schumer, the Senate will hold a four-hour debate and then a vote on Thursday on whether to bring Becerra’s nomination to the floor, where Democrats will need only a simple majority to move forward.

Schumer would then need to formally tee up votes on ending debate and confirmation, a step that will eat up days of time, before the Senate can take a final vote on Becerra’s nomination.

The Senate Finance Committee split evenly last week along party lines in a vote on advancing Becerra’s nomination to the full Senate.

Republicans quickly hardened in opposition against Becerra after he was nominated, attacking him over what they say is a lack of health care experience as well as his views on abortion and his support for “Medicare for All.” 

It is unclear if any GOP senators will vote for his nomination in the full Senate. If they all oppose him, he’ll need the support of every Democratic senator and Vice President Harris to break a tie. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters on Tuesday that he expects Becerra will have the votes to get confirmed, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) indicated last week that he hadn’t made a decision.

Heritage Action, a conservative grassroots group, announced last week that it was spending $500,000 on an ad campaign to try to pressure Manchin and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) to vote against his nomination. 

Tags Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mark Kelly Xavier Becerra

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