President Joe Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary, Xavier Becerra, received no votes from Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday morning, resulting in a tie that could toss the confirmation decision to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the rest of the upper chamber.
Now that the White House withdrew Neera Tanden’s nomination for the administration’s top budget office following pressure and questions about her ability to project Biden’s message of unity after she spent years hurling insults and mean tweets at conservative and even progressive politicians, congressional Republicans are shifting their focus to keep Becerra out of power.
Reasons for opposition to Becerra’s confirmation, especially by Republican legislators and conservative activist groups, continue to pile up, with many citing his lack of health experience and qualifications, his radical position and track record on abortion, his refusal to call for free and fair elections in Cuba after meeting with dictator Fidel Castro, his efforts to pursue legal action against the Little Sisters of the Poor for refusing to comply with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate on religious grounds, and his promotion of Obamacare, open borders, gun control, and radical climate plans.
The fact that President Biden was willing to nominate Xavier Becerra — someone with zero experience in anything related to health care — to the Department of Health and Human Services during this pandemic, illustrates Biden prioritizes partisan politics above all else. pic.twitter.com/e5yAYL3vxw
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 25, 2021
Instead of nominating someone with actual public-health experience, President Biden chose Xavier Becerra whose greatest accomplishment is suing an organization of nuns.
His disdain for the First Amendment alone should sink his nomination.https://t.co/VgkWCl4LFf
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 2, 2021
“Indeed, something has gone seriously awry in California when its attorney general spends his time attacking, instead of defending, Americans’ freedom of speech and religious liberty.”
More from me and @SenTomCotton on Biden's unqualified @HHSGov nominee, Xavier Becerra.👇🏻 https://t.co/PklqCD7rGa
— Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) March 3, 2021
Some groups, including Heritage Action for America, are pouring money into television advertisements in states such as Arizona and West Virginia to call senators’ attention to some of these radical positions, while others are capitalizing on his weaponization of the power that came with his position as attorney general of California to target people of faith for their pro-life convictions and prosecute pro-life citizen journalists. Just last week, more than 60 pro-life leaders urged Senate committees to reject Becerra as the nominee based on his “vocal pro-abortion advocacy.”
“Mr. Becerra’s confirmation would be divisive and a step in the wrong direction. We understand that the president needs to assemble a cabinet; however, Mr. Becerra has proven himself to be an enemy of the health of women and the unborn,” the letter states. “He cannot be entrusted with our national health programs and policies and is not qualified to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
Reports suggest that certain Republican senators who may have been on the fence about Becerra, such as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, are now settled to vote against the HHS nominee, leaving space for the Republicans to possibly sink his nomination with more support.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) says he will oppose Becerra nomination:
"Becerra has a long history of backing policies that are outside of the American mainstream. This includes, but is not limited to: a complete government takeover of our health care system, partial birth abortion…
— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) March 3, 2021
Democrats and their activist allies, however, are also fighting to confirm Becerra, saying he possesses the leadership and experience they need to accomplish their agenda.
ICYMI: Xavier Becerra is one step closer to being confirmed as the Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS). It’s a big deal. We need Becerra’s leadership as we face multiple public health crises. Call your Senator to confirm Becerra: https://t.co/lHz9p1mS2d pic.twitter.com/eEpSY0rsKX
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) March 3, 2021
Neera Tanden, Deb Haaland and Xavier Becerra are all extraordinarily qualified.
But these Biden nominees are being targeted by some in the Senate for their "radical views."
They all happen to be people of color.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) February 24, 2021
During his confirmation hearings, Becerra not only dodged Republicans’ questions about these issues, including his previous support of partial-birth abortions, but the former California attorney general also falsely claimed he never sued nuns.
“I have never sued the nuns, any nuns,” Becerra said last week. “I’ve never sued any affiliation of nuns, and my actions have always been directed at the federal agencies.”