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Senate Confirms Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary in Near Party-Line Vote

Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, testifies during his confirmation hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021. (Leigh Vogel/Reuters Pool)

The Senate voted 50-49 along party lines to confirm Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Thursday.

Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) was the lone Republican to vote in favor of Becerra’s confirmation. Senator Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) did not vote on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee was tied 14-14 along party lines in its vote to advance Becerra’s nomination. Because of the tie, the vote to advance Becerra’s nomination was moved to the entire Senate, which voted on Wednesday to advance the confirmation process. During that vote, Collins was also the only Republican to support Becerra’s nomination.

Most Republicans were staunchly opposed to Becerra, citing his record on abortion and religious freedom.

“A wannabe tyrant with a nasty record of attacking the First Amendment is going to quietly become the leader of the federal government’s largest agency,” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Ky.) told National Review in February during Becerra’s confirmation hearings.

As California attorney general, in 2017 Becerra sued the federal government to reinstate an Obamacare mandate requiring insurers to provide contraceptive coverage. The Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization of Catholic nuns, fought the suit in order to retain a religious exemption to providing contraceptions as part of health insurance. As a result, the state of California is currently suing the Little Sisters of the Poor in a case pending at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Given his record of aggressive hostility to free speech, health care freedom, and the traditional values of marriage, family, and the sanctity of life, Americans must be prepared for what is coming,” Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, said in a statement. “It is only a matter of time before he targets the Little Sisters of the Poor again, strips doctors and religious institutions of conscience rights, and mandates other harmful policies that assault core freedoms cherished by people of faith.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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