Senate Confirms Becerra for HHS Secretary
On March 18, by a vote of 50 to 49, the U.S. Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the sole Republican to back Becerra. With nearly 80,000 employees and a $1.2 trillion annual budget, HHS is one of the federal governments’ largest departments, overseeing important agencies, including CMS, the Food and Drug Administration and the NIH. It is expected that Secretary Becerra will prioritize the following issues:
- Expanding the Affordable Care Act;
- Health equity; and
- Drug pricing.
Additionally, on March 23, by a vote of 57 to 43, the Senate confirmed Vivek H. Murthy, MD, to reprise his role as the U.S. surgeon general. Finally, on March 24, by a vote of 52 to 48, the Senate confirmed Rachel L. Levine, MD as assistant secretary for HHS.