03.18.21

HELP Ranking Member Burr Votes Against Confirmation of Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary

Today, the Senate voted 50-49 to confirm California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Last month, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) raised significant concerns about Mr. Becerra’s lack of qualifications to lead the nation’s largest federal health agency in the middle of a global pandemic. Senator Burr released the following statement after voting against Mr. Becerra’s confirmation: 

“The Department of Health and Human Services deals every day with our nation’s most difficult and complex challenges,” said Senator Burr. “Leading a federal agency of this size and scope requires sound subject matter expertise and experience navigating comparable organizations. I’m concerned that Mr. Becerra lacks the experience needed to address these critical issues during this unprecedented moment. In addition, Mr. Becerra hasn’t proven that he has the appropriate respect for private sector innovation, which has been such an important factor in developing multiple effective coronavirus vaccines at a historic rate.

“For these reasons, I have opposed Mr. Becerra’s nomination. I plan to conduct rigorous oversight as we identify the gaps in our preparedness, response, and recovery framework. It is my hope that Mr. Becerra will listen to and work with both sides of the aisle as we begin to address these public health challenges.” 

Background: 

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra testified before the Senate HELP Committee on February 23, 2021, and testified before the Senate Finance Committee on February 24, 2021.

During Mr. Becerra’s confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP Committee, Ranking Member Burr expressed his concerns regarding Mr. Becerra’s lack of experience in the health care sector, especially as the nation continues to respond to the public health challenges of the pandemic.

On March 3, 2021, the Senate Finance Committee considered advancing Mr. Becerra’s nomination to the full Senate. The Committee voted 14-14, leaving it to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to advance the nomination. Mr. Becerra is the first cabinet official nominated by the Biden Administration to not be favorably reported out of committee.