Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is feeling the heat to betray President Joe Biden and his Department of Health and Human Services nominee, Xavier Becerra, due to his open borders policies on immigration and abortion.
Manchin has said he “has not yet decided” whether to support Becerra. If Manchin defects to oppose his nomination and Senate Republicans vote in lockstep, Becerra will fall short of the 50 votes necessary for confirmation.
Conservative groups are fighting Becerra’s nomination, lobbying to win over Manchin, who has voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the past and campaigned as a pro-life Democrat in conservative West Virginia. Becerra, for his part, led a coalition of 21 attorneys general asking the Food and Drug Administration to increase access to reproductive telehealthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another group unveiled an advertising blitz aimed at blocking Becerra. Heritage Action for America announced a $600,000 push through digital advertisements and television advertisements focused in the Washington, D.C., area.
The campaign criticized Becerra for not having a background in medicine and for pushing for left-wing causes such as loosening restrictions on immigration, according to a report. “He’s a radical partisan, an activist, not a doctor. In the middle of a pandemic, the wrong appointee, the wrong time,” the advertisement says.
Becerra’s Tuesday confirmation hearing could be one of the most divisive in the Biden administration’s opening days. Eleven GOP senators have already rendered him unfit to serve as the next HHS secretary, where he succeeded then-attorney general Kamala Harris.
Republican Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN.) both said that they plan on holding Becerra accountable for his role in enforcing coronavirus restrictions the Supreme Court found unconstitutional.