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Xavier Becerra Confirmed

Xavier Becerra has been confirmed as the new secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Post reports.

President Joe Biden nominated Becerra, the former attorney general of California who also represented Los Angeles in the House of Representatives, to the post in December.

The Post notes that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Becerra will have his hands full leading the department, which encompasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies. According to CNBC, Becerra said at a Senate confirmation hearing last month that he recognized "the enormous challenges before us."

The confirmation vote was close at 50 to 49, largely along party lines with one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to confirm, the Post adds. Republicans opposing Becerra said he lacked experience and criticized his support of a "Medicare for All" program and abortion rights, according to NBC News.