Becerra faces his second test before the Senate 

President Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra faced a relatively low-key confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Becerra, California’s attorney general and a former member of the House, faced tough questions from Republicans on the panel about abortion and religious rights, but he steered away from any controversy by vowing to follow existing laws.

Some Senate Republicans and conservative groups have painted Becerra as too inexperienced and “radical” to lead one of the government’s largest federal agencies, but it seems unlikely that their efforts to sink the nomination will work.

“If I had to guess, if I were a betting man, I’d say you have the votes to be approved,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

If Becerra gets no Republican support, then he needs the votes of all 50 Senate Democrats to get confirmed, with Vice President Harris breaking a tie. It’s still not clear how swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) will vote and moderate Senate Republicans like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have appeared to leave the door open to voting for him.