03.24.21

Senator Murray Applauds Confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for Health and Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General

Senate confirmed Dr. Levine in a 52-48 vote, and Dr. Murthy in a 57-43 vote

 

Senator Murray: “Dr. Levine has been on the frontlines of this pandemic, which is why she knows firsthand what our states and communities need from the Department of Health and Human Services.”

 

Senator Murray: “I’m pleased to have Dr. Murthy returning to the role of Surgeon General at this critical time.”

 

Dr. Levine made history as the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the federal government, and the first openly transgender person ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate

 

Senator Murray: “I’m proud to vote for Dr. Levine, and incredibly proud of the progress this confirmation will represent for our country and for transgender people all across it who are watching today.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health in a 52-48 vote, as well as the confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General yesterday in an 57-43 vote.

 

In remarks delivered ahead of the vote on Dr. Levine’s nomination, Senator Murray spoke of the importance of confirming qualified public health experts as the nation works to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and she commended Dr. Levine for her experience guiding Pennsylvania’s public health response to the crisis as the state’s Secretary of Health.

 

“Dr. Levine has been on the frontlines of this pandemic, which is why she knows firsthand what our states and communities need from the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Senator Murray in her remarks on the Senate floor. “As the highest-ranking health official in Pennsylvania, she led the state’s COVID-19 response by focusing on transparency and clear, science-based communication, giving daily briefings on the status of the pandemic, and advocating for the resources and support Pennsylvanians needed.”

 

Senator Murray also highlighted the historic nature of Dr. Levine’s confirmation. Dr. Levine is the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the U.S. government, and the first ever openly transgender person to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

 

Speaking about Dr. Murthy’s confirmation by the Senate, Senator Murray highlighted his record working on critical public health issues during his previous service as Surgeon General of the United States under the Obama Administration.

 

“During his last tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy established himself as a trusted voice on matters of public health, helped see our nation through the Zika outbreak, and published groundbreaking reports on the opioid epidemic and rising youth tobacco use. I’m pleased to have Dr. Murthy returning to the role of Surgeon General at this critical time,” said Senator Murray.

 

Senator Murray’s floor remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“Thank you, M. President.

 

“I rise today to strongly urge my colleagues to support the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine—a highly qualified public health expert—to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health.

 

“As the highest-ranking health official in Pennsylvania, she led the state’s COVID-19 response by focusing on transparency and clear, science-based communication, giving daily briefings on the status of the pandemic, and advocating for the resources and support Pennsylvanians needed.

 

“Dr. Levine has been on the frontlines of this pandemic, which is why she knows firsthand what our states and communities need from the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

“And even before this crisis, Dr. Levine established herself as a trusted voice to the people of Pennsylvania on matters of public health through her work to establish opioid prescribing guidelines and education for medical students, make lifesaving treatment for opioid overdoses widely available, combat eating disorders, increase health equity, and help the LGBTQ community get health care.

 

“She was confirmed to both of her positions in the state with broad bipartisan support.

 

“She passed out of the HELP Committee with support from Republican colleagues last week.

 

“And I hope she will be confirmed today in a strong bipartisan vote as well.

 

“And I want to take a moment to acknowledge what her confirmation today would represent for our country. 

 

“Because in addition to being a highly qualified nominee, Dr. Levine is also an historic one.

 

“Upon confirmation, she will be the highest-ranking openly transgender official in our government, and the first one ever confirmed by the Senate.

 

“I have always said the people in our government should reflect the people it serves—and today we will take a new, historic step toward making that a reality.

 

“I’m proud to vote for Dr. Levine, and incredibly proud of the progress this confirmation will represent for our country and for transgender people all across it who are watching today.

 

“And I hope all of my colleagues are too.

 

“I’d also like to say how glad I am that yesterday we voted to confirm Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General.

 

“During his last tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy established himself as a trusted voice on matters of public health, helped see our nation through the Zika outbreak, and published groundbreaking reports on the opioid epidemic, and rising youth tobacco use.

 

“I’m pleased to have Dr. Murthy returning to the role of Surgeon General at this critical time. 

 

“M. President, when it comes to ending this pandemic, we have a lot of work to do, and no time to waste.

 

“We are going to need all the help we can get, particularly from experts like Dr. Murthy and Dr. Levine, to get it done. 

 

“Thank you.”

 

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