Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced Thursday that he will vote to confirm California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary, saying that the pro-abortion attorney general promised to “uphold the law” on the Hyde Amendment.
“He committed to me that he will uphold the law in regards to the Hyde Amendment,” Manchin said in a Thursday statement. “I believe Attorney General Becerra will be a leader for every American and West Virginian, and I will vote to confirm him as Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
Manchin’s support signals that Becerra will likely have the necessary votes to be confirmed HHS secretary, despite strong opposition from pro-life activists, faith leaders, and Republican lawmakers, who warn that the California attorney general is “an extreme political activist” and “an enemy to every pro-life policy and law.”
President Joe Biden has repeatedly promised to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortions. His assurances are backed by Democratic leadership and pro-abortion advocates pushing to axe the amendment from acts of Congress. (RELATED: CatholicVote Appeals To Sen. Manchin’s Faith, Calls On Him To Reject Becerra Nomination)
The California attorney general’s response to the West Virginia senator matches many of his responses to Republican senators during his confirmation hearings when Becerra repeatedly avoided discussing his abortion stances by promising to follow the law.
NEW: Manchin will vote for Becerra to HHS, a clear sign he will be confirmed to the post
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 11, 2021
Responding to a question from Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on partial birth abortion, Becerra said: “I have worked, as I have mentioned, for decades trying to protect the health of men and women, young and old, and as attorney general, my job has been to follow the law and make sure others are following the law.”
The nominee similarly responded to a question from Republican Indiana Sen. Mike Braun on taxpayer funding of abortion by saying, “I can say to you that we will follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources. There I can make that commitment that we will follow the law.”
Some lawmakers particularly highlighted Becerra’s actions towards the Little Sisters of the Poor during the confirmation hearings. The California attorney general filed a 2017 lawsuit against the Trump administration that sought to reimpose an Obama-era mandate forcing insurance providers to provide contraceptives. The Little Sisters of the Poor had fought the mandate, resulting in a lawsuit by the state of California.
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) March 11, 2021
The lawsuit is currently under consideration by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Becerra is listed as counsel in the 9th circuit ruling. (RELATED: Little Sisters Of The Poor Battle Democratic AGs Over Birth Control Mandate)
The mandate required that the nuns include cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives, and some abortion drugs in employer health plans, the Catholic News Agency reported. The nuns had said that the mandate violated their religious beliefs, since the Catholic Church teaches that abortion and contraception are gravely immoral.
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