Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday to be President Joe Biden’s Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Levine is the first ever transgender individual to be appointed to a Senate-confirmed office. They were confirmed by a vote of 52-48, with all 50 Democrats voting yes, along with Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.
Senate confirms RACHEL LEVINE as assistant secretary for health in historic vote.
Levine is the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the Senate.
All Democrats voted yes with GOP’s Collins, Murkowski joining them.
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) March 24, 2021
Levine previously served as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary. In that role, Levine faced criticism for their handling of the state’s coronavirus response. A majority of the early COVID-19 deaths that occurred in the state happened at nursing homes after Levine approved a directive for nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, some of whom were previously hospitalized. (RELATED: Senate Narrowly Confirms Xavier Becerra To Lead Health And Human Services)
Local news outlets later reported that Levine had moved their own mother out of a personal care facility after signing the directive. Levine was also criticized for secretly permitting a car show to gather with a crowd size that violated Pennsylvania’s existing coronavirus restrictions. (RELATED: ‘Please Don’t Misgender Me’: Reporter Apologizes After Calling Transgender PA Health Secretary ‘Sir’)
During confirmation hearings, Levine sparred with Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over the use of hormone treatment on children suffering from gender dysphoria. Paul repeatedly questioned Levine on which medical interventions should be allowed for minors who want to transition genders, but Levine refused to directly answer the question.
“We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex,” Paul said during the hearing. He accused Levine of evading his questions and supporting “surgical destruction” of minors’ genitals.