The Senate Finance Committee did not make a determination on the nomination of President Biden’s pick for Health Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, after a vote on the nomination resulted in a tie, split along party lines.
The vote took place at an executive session of the finance committee Wednesday morning. Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. announced that the tie vote will be reported to the secretary of the Senate. He noted that it is up to the Senate majority or minority leader to bring a motion to discharge the nomination for a vote by the full Senate.
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Wyden touted Becerra’s qualifications before the vote, noting that he served for 24 years in the House of Representatives and helped write legislation related to health care including the Affordable Care Act. This was in stark contrast to concerns from some Republicans over the California attorney general’s lack of relevant health care experience.
“If there is an effort to paint the attorney general as some kind of inexperienced radical it’s just not backed up by what the committee saw last week,” Wyden said.
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Wyden noted that it is normal for senators to have differences of opinion with nominees and that Becerra’s nomination was no different.
“But disagreement on some issues alone is not a good enough reason to oppose a nominee as knowledgeable and qualified as Attorney General Becerra,” he said.
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Wyden’s remarks about Becerra’s qualifications came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Becerra’s nomination “a puzzling selection for this critical post,” and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he would have been willing to vote for a Biden nominee, “but you’ve got to at least know something about the subject matter,” according to The Hill.
Ranking member Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, stated early in the meeting that he would not be voting for Becerra, but acknowledged that they “do share some areas of common interest and concern,” such as expanding telehealth and improving Medicare’s finances.