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Burr to Becerra: “I’m Not Sold Yet”

Ranking Member Burr raises concerns about HHS nominee’s lack of experience, qualifications for HHS role in this unprecedented moment

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its nomination hearing for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In his prepared opening remarks, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) expressed his concerns regarding Mr. Becerra’s lack of experience in the health care sector, especially as America continues to face the unprecedented public health challenges of a pandemic.

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WATCH: Ranking Member Burr delivers opening remarks before the nomination hearing of Xavier Becerra

Key Excerpts:

“Let me just inflect here. Members of Congress are granted security clearances because they become Members of Congress. It’s automatic. Members of Congress do not become subject matter experts just because they are Members of Congress. Just because they sit on a committee that has health responsibilities.

“I’ve said often that I think you could count on both hands and both feet the number of Members of Congress that can actually understand the health care system in America. I may be wrong, but I think I’m right.

“So, it doesn’t automatically give you expertise because we serve on this committee. So, I’m concerned at this time in Congress. As the Attorney General sits before us I’ll say what I’ve said to him privately. I’m not sold yet. I’m not sure that you have the necessary experience or skills to do this job at this moment. I’m not sure that you have the appropriate respect for the private sector, and innovation, and intellectual property needed to bring more exciting treatments and cures to save lives in this country.

“General, you have an opportunity today and tomorrow in public hearings to prove that that expertise is there. I told you I would remain open for this hearing and tomorrow’s Finance [Committee] hearing…But I do come with an open mind and now the job is up to you.”

To read Ranking Member Burr’s full prepared opening statement at today’s nomination hearing, click here.