Mar 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate votes to bypass deadlocked committee on HHS nominee Xavier Becerra

xavier becerra
Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The full Senate voted 51-48 on Thursday to advance Xavier Becerra's nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, after it stalled in the deadlocked Senate Finance Committee due to Republican opposition.

Why it matters: Becerra, who as attorney general of California sued the Trump administration over 100 times, is one of President Biden's most controversial nominees. This was the first time Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) used his powers to force a nomination out of a tied committee.

The big picture: Becerra has come under fire from Senate Republicans over his lack of health care experience, support for Medicare for All and abortion, and his handling of California's coronavirus response while serving as the state's attorney general.

  • The moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said on Thursday that he would support Becerra for HHS secretary, signaling that the nomination will have support from all 50 Democrats in the chamber.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said she would support Becerra, meaning that Vice President Kamala Harris likely will not have to serve as the tiebreaker.

What's next: A final confirmation vote will likely be held next week.

Go deeper