Former Obama administration Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are two top contenders to be President-elect Joe Biden’s health secretary, according to a Politico report.
Murthy, 43, co-chairs Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, and would be the first person of Indian descent to lead the department, according to Politico. Lujan-Grisham, 61 would be the first Latina ever nominated for the role and the fourth governor to occupy the post in the 20th Century.
Both would likely face high-stakes confirmation hearings, especially if Republicans maintain control of the Senate. The two would likely begin their tenure overseeing one of the largest immunization efforts in history, playing a central role in ending the coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Up To 90% Effective, Drugmaker Says)
Though other candidates are still being considered, Lujan Grisham and Murthy have strong health policy experience dating back to Biden’s tenure as vice president, according to Politico.
In addition to serving as surgeon general under Obama, Murthy also held an outsized role in combating the Ebola epidemic, according to the National Institutes of Health. Lujan Grisham, who is a co-chair of Biden’s transition, served as a congresswoman while Obama was in office, and has the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“When we think about someone who’s a manager and a leader who knows these issues, Michelle is top of the list,” said California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, according to Politico.
Murthy would be one of multiple former Obama officials to join Biden’s cabinet if nominated and confirmed and has the support of multiple Obama alumni. (RELATED: Biden Introduces National Security Team)
If passed over for HHS, Murthy would likely be appointed to another prominent health post in Biden’s administration, according to Politico.
But if nominated, Murthy would likely face harsh criticism from Republicans over some of his previous stances, most notably his declaration of gun violence as a threat to public health.
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