President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is under fire as Republicans in the Senate unify against him and Democrats remain uncertain if they will be able to cobble together enough votes to secure confirmation.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), meanwhile, is launching new television ads in both New Hampshire and Georgia against the Biden HHS nominee and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra where Democrat Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) face tough reelection bids in battleground states in 2022.
“Xavier Becerra wants to be Joe Biden’s secretary of health care,” a narrator says in the ads targeting Warnock and Hassan, adding:
But Becerra supports Bernie’s government takeover of your health care, eliminating your employer-provided coverage. Becerra defended California’s disastrous lockdowns that have destroyed small businesses and hurt schoolchildren. So extreme, Becerra even sued nuns for practicing their faith. You can’t trust Xavier Becerra with your health care. Tell your senator to vote no.
Cotton’s decision to launch campaign ads on television in both states is an aggressive escalation against vulnerable Democrats and will certainly take the temperature up in both Georgia and New Hampshire and likely increase the heat on other vulnerable Democrat senators.
Becerra will face multiple confirmation hearings this week before at least two U.S. Senate committees, per Senate sources. A senior Senate GOP aide told Breitbart News, too, that all Senate Republicans are expected to be unified against Becerra and that while they have not made a public comment on the nomination yet, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have both privately expressed concerns.
Meanwhile, Democrats do not have this nomination locked down, either. A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told Breitbart News on Monday that “he hasn’t yet decided whether he will support Rep. Becerra’s nomination.”
Meanwhile, the office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has not replied to a request for comment on this nomination or the faltering nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Manchin announced his opposition to Tanden last week, and early this week, Romney and Collins announced they would oppose Tanden, too. While President Biden and the White House are sticking with her for now, they would need a Republican—only Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) remains a serious possibility or perhaps some surprise from somewhere else in the GOP conference emerges—to support her.
In other words, with Tanden’s nomination on the ropes, now so, too, Becerra seems to be in trouble, though no Democrat has expressed public opposition to him yet, and it is unclear if any will. Becerra’s troubles, unlike Tanden’s issues before the Senate, are very policy-based. Tanden sent out a bunch of nasty tweets about GOP senators over the past several years, then deleted them and covered them up in the lead-up to her nomination announcement by then-President-elect Biden. Becerra, meanwhile, finds himself on the far-left radical wing of the Democrat Party, pushing things such as trying to give government-funded health care to illegal aliens and suing nuns for practicing their religion.
A Politico story published on Monday reviewing Becerra’s career in public life—first as a U.S. representative from California, then as California’s attorney general—details how he has spent a long time trying to get illegal aliens access to government-subsidized healthcare benefits. The radical position is one that is deeply unpopular with the American people and in both political parties, as Politico notes, even quoting a Democrat congressman explaining how out of step Becerra’s beliefs are with the general public.
“This issue about non-citizens receiving health care has been contentious for years,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said, according to the Politico report on Becerra. “U.S. Citizens should receive welfare and other benefits, that’s my position and my position is what helps Democrats. If you’re undocumented, you shouldn’t be getting health care and other benefits.”
“My district is heavily Hispanic, and I hear it,” Cuellar also said. “‘You know congressman, you can’t let those undocumented people get assistance — we’ve got a lot of people here who need help. There’s long lines at the food banks.’ I hear that all the time.”
Despite the radical nature of this idea, Becerra, the Politico report notes, has spent his entire adult life in politics advocating for it.
“But interviews with 15 Becerra friends, colleagues, and allies, as well as health care experts, suggest that health care for undocumented immigrants is an issue close to the heart of the 63-year-old son of a Mexican immigrant mother who, despite a diplomatic demeanor, can be forceful in pushing issues that align with his value system,” Politico’s Maggie Severns wrote. “A Politico review of his 24-year House career and four years as California attorney general found that Becerra has repeatedly advocated for undocumented immigrants to have more access to health care and other government benefits, whether through Medicaid or Obamacare.”
It is not just that issue, though, that has Becerra on the ropes confirmation-wise. Put aside for the moment that he has no actual history of working in healthcare policy and Biden nominated him to lead HHS amid a global pandemic—reason alone for senators to vote no on his confirmation—but his radical history on other major issues has begun unifying GOP support and may begin to split Democrats concerned that the Biden administration is going too political too fast without solving issues like dealing with the pandemic.
“Xavier Becerra has spent his entire career fighting for socialized health care and the abortion industry while trampling on Americans’ religious freedom,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of the conservative group Heritage Action, told Breitbart News. “President Biden promised ‘unity,’ but this nomination delivers division. Heritage Action and other conservative groups are working to expose this administration’s radical personnel and policies — this nomination is one of the first opportunities for senators to step up and oppose that radical agenda.”
Anderson’s group, Heritage Action, is also out with ads last week targeting Becerra, as Breitbart News reported. The ad points out multiple times that Becerra is “not a doctor” and then ties him to Democrat corruption in helping a politically connected drug dealer get a prison sentence commutation from former President Bill Clinton:
The ad also hammers Becerra for going after nuns. Becerra’s decision to, as California’s attorney general, target the nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor with lawsuits has unified traditional Republicans against him. His radical positions on other issues such as immigration and using the HHS Department—during a pandemic, no less—to implement an extreme partisan vision for the country could solidify more opposition.
The fact that several of these battleground and red state Democrats are remaining quiet for now has some Senate Republicans bullish on chances to stop Becerra. Most presidents usually have at least a nomination for a Cabinet post fail at the outset of their administration, and Biden’s push for Tanden at OMB seems destined for eventual failure without any Republicans stepping forward to bail her out. But now, Becerra is in trouble, too, as Democrats such as Manchin, whose office confirmed he has not yet taken a position on Sinema, whose office has not replied to requests for comment, and others like Warnock and Hassan have not yet said where they are on this nomination.