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Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra

Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra
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The Senate Finance Committee split evenly Wednesday on party lines in a vote on advancing Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care: All adults in US now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine | White House launches media blitz to promote vaccines Top House Republicans ask Harris for meeting on border White House launches media effort to promote coronavirus vaccines MORE, highlighting the GOP resistance to his nomination.

The vote means Becerra's nomination can still go to the full Senate, but there will be an added step of Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party 'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) moving to discharge the nomination from committee, followed by an added vote in the full Senate on discharging it.

All Democrats on the committee voted for his nomination, and all Republicans voted against, on the evenly split panel.

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It is unclear if any GOP senators will vote for his nomination in the full Senate.

Republicans have made Becerra a lightning rod for criticism, 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."

Democrats defended Becerra's experience.

"As California's attorney general he was in charge of a billion dollar budget and a staff of thousands," said committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion MORE (D-Ore.).

"If there is an effort to paint the attorney general as some kind of inexperienced radical, it's just not backed up by what the committee saw last week," he added, referring to Becerra's performance in confirmation hearings.

Republicans attacked Becerra in particular for, as California attorney general, suing the Trump administration over its rule on religious exemptions to ObamaCare's contraceptive mandate.

"His qualifications to be HHS secretary seem to be minimal beyond suing HHS," said Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyBottom line Calls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats MORE (R-La.).