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Democratic U.S. Senator Manchin to vote for Becerra to be health secretary

Politics55 minutes ago (Mar 11, 2021 11:30AM ET)

(C) Reuters. Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be secretary of Health and Human Services

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin plans to vote for Xavier Becerra to serve as President Joe Biden’s secretary of Health and Human Services, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

The support from Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, is critical because Becerra, currently California’s attorney general, would need all 48 Democrats and the two independents in the Senate who caucus with them to vote in favor of his confirmation if Republicans unite in opposition.

“While Attorney General Xavier Becerra and I have very different records … he has affirmed to me his dedication to working with Members on both sides of the aisle to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the numerous needs of our nation in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said in a statement.

Becerra is expected to face a narrow path for confirmation. His nomination was deadlocked at the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month in a tie vote. Senate rules allow leaders to bring stalled nominees directly to the floor for a confirmation vote, where Becerra would likely need every Democratic vote to be confirmed to the job.

If he gets the job, Becerra would oversee an expansion of the Affordable Care Act that was included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package, along with other other efforts to control the coronavirus.

Manchin previously derailed the nomination of Biden’s pick as budget director, Neera Tanden, and exerted his influence on a recently passed coronavirus relief package, driving a compromise on the size of expanded unemployment benefits central to the package.

Democratic U.S. Senator Manchin to vote for Becerra to be health secretary

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