Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra
The Senate Finance Committee split evenly Wednesday on party lines in a vote on advancing Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Xavier Becerra, 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 Schumer (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.
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 Wyden (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 Cassidy (R-La.).