Washington [US], March 19 (ANI): The US Senate on Thursday (local time) confirmed Xavier Becerra as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a 50-49 vote, with only one Republican Senator voting in his favour.
Republicans were nearly unanimous in their opposition to Becerra with Senator Susan Collins being the only GOP member to vote in favour of his confirmation, as she cited his commitment to rural health care and a shared goal of lowering drug prices, reported The Hill.
Becerra was attacked for his views on abortion and past support for Medicare for All, with conservatives accusing him of being a liberal extremist with no experience in health care.
"The most significant health-related experience on the nominee's record are his efforts to wield the legal system against religious sisters to make them violate their faith and conscience," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had said in his floor remarks on Wednesday.
He has served 12 terms in Congress, including as a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare, before becoming the attorney general of California.
The Hill reported that Becerra will play a major role in the government's COVID-19 response, but he will also need to guide the massive bureaucracy through a host of other challenges, including the influx of migrants at the border.
Democrats see Becerra as a key ally to help undo what they view as years of damage done by the Trump administration to undermine ObamaCare, the Medicaid program, reproductive health, LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections and more.
"We have our work cut out for us. But in Attorney General Becerra -- we have a secretary of Health who is up to the job," said Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee. (ANI)