02.23.21

Murray Urges Quick Confirmation for HHS Nominee Becerra To Support Biden-Harris COVID-19 Response Efforts

Murray highlights Becerra’s legislative knowledge, health care policy background, and executive experience

 

Murray stresses the importance of confirming Becerra in order to help the Biden-Harris Administration get our COVID-19 response on track, address health inequities, and ensure every family can get quality, affordable health care

 

Senator Murray: “We all want the pandemic to end—which means we all should want the Biden-Harris Administration to succeed, and we should be getting qualified nominees like Attorney General Becerra on the job as quickly as possible.”

 

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) urged her colleagues to support and confirm Attorney General Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in order to ensure the Biden Administration can get our COVID-19 response on track, address long-standing inequities within our health care system, and ensure every family can get the quality, affordable health care they need. In her opening remarks, Senator Murray emphasized that Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s legislative knowledge, health care policy background, and executive experience make him an excellent choice to head HHS during this critical time.

 

“Xavier Becerra worked to pass laws that expanded coverage like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act. As California’s Attorney General, he has proven himself as an executive leader by seeing one of the nation’s largest Justice Departments, through one of the most challenging periods in recent history. As Attorney General he has fought for patients, not pharmaceutical companies, and even won a $70 million settlement against drug companies for blocking cheaper generics. He has fought to defend families’ health care in court,” said Senator Murray in her opening remarks. “And as Secretary he will work with Congress to make sure every patient can get quality, affordable care.

 

After almost a year of President Trump undermining our nation’s COVID-19 response at every step, Senator Murray spoke with Attorney General Becerra about the importance of scientific leadership and making sure that our federal response is driven by public health experts and evidence, not politics. Senator Murray also highlighted our country’s long history of structural racism, discrimination, and bias that have caused significantly more hardship for communities of color during this pandemic—and asked Attorney General Becerra how he plans to address these inequities within our health care system later on during her questions as well.

 

“While the Trump Administration ignored crises that impact public health like this pandemic, climate change, and systemic racism, Attorney General Becerra has taken them on,” said Senator Murray. “Overall, his record tells a story that is clear, compelling, and persuasive. He has fought against pharmaceutical companies, opioid manufacturers, tobacco companies, and polluters. And for more affordable, quality health care for every patient including women, communities of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and migrant children. With a record like that, I have no doubt that as Secretary he will put special interests on notice, put patients and public health first, and put science, data, and experts back in the driver’s seat.”

 

In her opening remarks, Senator Murray also stressed the importance of confirming qualified public servants like Attorney General Becerra in order to respond to and recover from the COVID crisis—and urged her colleagues to join her in supporting his nomination.

 

“There is so much work to be done—and with this pandemic the clock is already ticking, and the reality is we are already way, way behind,” said Senator Murray. “We all want the pandemic to end—which means we all should want the Biden-Harris Administration to succeed, and we should be getting qualified nominees like Attorney General Becerra on the job as quickly as possible.  So I hope to see strong support on both sides of the aisle for your nomination, Attorney General Becerra, and I look forward to working with you.”

 

Following four years of the Trump Administration jeopardizing coverage and protections for people with pre-existing conditions by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act through Congress and attacking it in court, Senator Murray asked Attorney General Becerra, who led efforts against the Republicans’ lawsuit, to work with Congress to help ensure everyone can afford quality health care. Additionally, given HHS’s role in child care, Chair Murray highlighted the importance of a strong child care system to advance our nation’s economic recovery—and noted that she looks forward to working with Attorney General Becerra to make child care more affordable and accessible.

 

Senator Murray’s full remarks are below.

 

“Thank you Attorney General Becerra for joining us.

 

“While we haven’t been able to meet in person since your nomination, I’ve appreciated our conversations so far about how to tackle the challenges our nation is facing—starting with this pandemic—and our past experiences working together when you were in Congress to help families stay safe and healthy.

 

“I look forward to hearing more from you today and working with you again, both virtually, and hopefully in-person soon.


“If there’s one thing that’s clear as this pandemic continues to rage, it’s that we have a lot of work to do, and no time to waste.

 

“After four years of President Trump relentlessly attacking families’ health care, and a year of him refusing to lead the fight against this pandemic. Our country is in crisis.

 

“The uninsured rate, drug prices, and health care costs have gone up.

 

“Confidence in our public health agencies has plummeted. Already painful health inequities have grown deeper and more damaging for communities of color.

 

“And the Trump Administration let the COVID-19 pandemic absolutely spiral out of control as testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations fell behind, hospitals were overcrowded, health care workers were pushed to the brink, and hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives.

 

“They didn’t just send things off the rails—they left us deep in the ditch.

 

“While the days of President Trump’s head-in-the-sand approach to crisis management are thankfully over—this pandemic isn’t.

 

“We need to work with the Biden Administration to quickly take additional steps on COVID relief, and move swiftly to make sure they have their full team in place.

 

“Including strong leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services who will work with us to end this pandemic, and rebuild a stronger, fairer country.

 

“Given the urgency of this crisis, I’m hopeful that after today’s hearing—and the Finance Committee hearing tomorrow—the Senate will move quickly to confirm Attorney General Becerra.

 

“Attorney General Becerra has the experience and the principles needed for this important role.

“He certainly knows how to work with Congress after serving as a member of the House of Representatives for 24 years.

 

“He didn’t spend his time in Congress trying to repeal laws that protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and help families get health care.

 

“He worked to pass laws that expanded coverage like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act.

 

“And as California’s Attorney General, he has proven himself as an executive leader by seeing one of the nation’s largest Justice Departments, through one of the most challenging periods in recent history.

“As Attorney General he has fought for patients, not pharmaceutical companies, and even won a $70 million settlement against drug companies for blocking cheaper generics.

 

“He has fought to defend families’ health care in court.

 

“And as Secretary he will work with Congress to make sure every patient can get quality, affordable care.

“While the Trump Administration ignored crises that impact public health like this pandemic, climate change, and systemic racism, Attorney General Becerra has taken them on.

 

“He has held companies accountable for flouting COVID-19 safety rules and putting workers at risk.

 

“He established a new office at his Department focused on environmental justice, including how pollution and public health hazards disproportionately hurt communities of color.

 

“And he has worked throughout his career to advocate on behalf of communities of color across health, immigration, education and more.

 

“Overall, his record tells a story that is clear, compelling, and persuasive.

 

“He has fought against pharmaceutical companies, opioid manufacturers, tobacco companies, and polluters.

 

“And for more affordable, quality health care for every patient including women, communities of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and migrant children.

 

“With a record like that, I have no doubt that as Secretary he will put special interests on notice, put patients and public health first, and put science, data, and experts back in the driver’s seat.

 

“And he would also bring an important perspective to this role as a first generation college student, and the first Latino Secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

“I look forward to working with him and the Biden Administration to not only address the immediate challenges of this pandemic, getting testing and contact tracing scaled up, and continuing to increase our vaccinations.

 

“But also to make progress on so many other fronts, like making sure health care, in this country is truly a right, not a privilege; reversing the attacks on women’s health from the previous Administration; helping every family get quality, affordable child care; reunifying migrant children with the parents they were separated from by the Trump Administration; rooting out systemic racism in health care that has inflicted a deadly toll on communities of color during this pandemic; and building a strong public health system to tackle future pandemics, the maternal mortality crisis, the mental health crisis, the opioid epidemic, and so many other challenges.

 

“There is so much work to be done—and with this pandemic the clock is already ticking, and the reality is we are already way, way behind.

 

“We all want the pandemic to end—which means we all should want the Biden-Harris Administration to succeed, and we should be getting qualified nominees like Attorney General Becerra on the job as quickly as possible.

 

“So I hope to see strong support on both sides of the aisle for your nomination, Attorney General Becerra, and I look forward to working with you.

 

“Finally, I would like unanimous consent to enter into the record 54 letters of support for Attorney General Becerra’s nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, signed by individuals and groups representing patients, health care providers, hospitals, public health experts, advocates, and researchers.

 

“So ordered.  Now I’ll recognize Ranking Member Burr for his opening remarks.”

 

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