Xavier Becerra, candidate for Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, answers questions during his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 24, 2021.

Greg Nash | Pool | Reuters

The Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as secretary for health and human services Thursday as the US plans to contain Covid-19 and achieve a semblance of normal life by the summer.

Becerra, California’s attorney general, won approval by a narrow 50-49 lead in a Senate that was evenly divided between parties. Almost all Republicans turned down the former US representative’s nomination, questioning his healthcare experience and previous support for Medicare for All.

Becerra will be the first Latino to run HHS. In a tweeted statement following his confirmation, Becerra said he was “honored and humiliated by today’s vote” and “ready to get to work”.

The support of Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, removed the need for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a casting vote.

Becerra will play an important role in one of the federal government’s most daunting corporations. HHS will help ease Covid-19 vaccinations and testing efforts as health officials hope widespread vaccination will fight back a mutating virus and allow businesses and schools to reopen.

While the spread of the virus has slowed in the United States, the country has about 54,800 Covid-19 cases and at least 1,200 deaths every day, according to a 7-day average calculated by CNBC. About 15.5% of adults and 37.6% of those over 65 are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Becerra will also play a prominent role as the Biden government continues health care reform. President Joe Biden has supported the creation of a Medicare-style public insurance option and changes to control the cost of medication and care.

Before the vote, Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, DN.Y. Care system from Trump administration attacks. “

Becerra became the 20th member of the President’s Senate-approved cabinet. The chamber has turned its attention to filling the executive branch since it passed the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus alleviation law earlier this month.

At a Senate confirmation hearing last month, Becerra said he understood “the enormous challenges that lie ahead”. He said he will work not only to contain the virus, but also to improve access to affordable health care.

Becerra touted his work as California’s attorney general to make Covid treatments more widely available and to crack down on opioid manufacturers.

After her election to the Senate last year, he succeeded Harris as the state’s largest law enforcement officer in 2017. Becerra won a four-year term in 2018.

He represented California in the US House from 1993 to 2017.

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