The United States Senate approved Xavier Becerra as the new Secretary of Health on Thursday by a narrow margin of 50 votes in favor and 49 against.
After the Democratic Senator from Hawaii Mazie Hirono did not vote, the tie was broken by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, the only one from her party to support Becerra, who becomes the first Latino to head the Department of Health .
The almost unanimous Republican refusal is due to Becerra’s explicit support for women’s right to abortion, as well as his limited experience in health, reports CNN.
An argument that from the Democratic ranks they have questioned, recalling how Alex Azar was elected in the previous administration, “a pharmaceutical executive who raised drug prices and tried to undermine medical laws,” as denounced by the majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Becerra, a former California attorney general, will have to deal not only with social policies related to the pandemic, but also with the immigration crisis.
“I understand the enormous challenges before us and our solemn responsibility to be faithful stewards of an agency that touches almost every aspect of our lives,” Becerra said during his first appearance before the Senate in February.
Following the approval this week of Becerra and Deb Haaland as Home Secretary, among others, current Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is expected to be confirmed next week as the new Secretary of Labor.