Susan Collins Casts Lone GOP Vote to Advance Becerra HHS Nomination

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Sen. Susan Collins talks to reporters about the Supreme Court nomination of federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 17, 2018. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) cast the only GOP vote to advance the nomination of Xavier Becerra for Health Secretary on Wednesday.

Becerra’s nomination advanced 50-49 in a full-Senate vote. The nomination proceeded to the Senate floor after the Finance Committee was deadlocked in a 14-14 tied vote.

The Senate will hold a final vote to confirm Becerra later this week.

A majority of Senate Republicans are staunchly opposed to Becerra’s nomination due to his stance on abortion. Currently California’s attorney general, Becerra sued the federal government in 2017 to reimpose a mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage. The Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization of Catholic nuns, fought that suit in court, and as a result the State of California is currently suing the organization in a case pending at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) labeled Becerra “a wannabe tyrant with a nasty record of attacking the First Amendment” in comments to National Review.

However, Becerra’s confirmation was likely assured after Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.), who occasionally votes with Republicans and helped block the confirmation of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, announced that he would approve Becerra.

“While Attorney General Xavier Becerra and I have very different records on issues like abortion and the Second Amendment, 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 last week.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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