Senate advances Becerra nomination for HHS secretary

Both centrists cited Becerra’s commitment to work on rural health issues.

Becerra, the California attorney general, has come under fire from Republicans for his record on abortion rights and past support for “Medicare for All.” Manchin said he had spoken with Becerra about the nominee’s pledge to “uphold the law in regards to the Hyde Amendment” — the longstanding ban on federal funding for abortion that Biden and other Democrats want to abolish.

Collins said she looked forward to working with Becerra on “shared goals” including lowering the price of prescription drugs and boosting domestic drug manufacturing to reduce reliance on global supply chains.

Democrats have warned that delays on confirming Becerra would hamper the country’s pandemic response.

Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the GOP’s opposition was rooted in the party’s hostility toward the Affordable Care Act, which Becerra helped draft as a House member and defended in court as California’s attorney general.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Becerra “a thoroughly partisan actor” and urged that his nomination be voted down.