Neera Tanden’s nomination is sinking, Xavier Becerra’s should sink too

There is more bad news for Neera Tanden, Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Susan Collins says she won’t vote to confirm Tanden.

On Friday, Joe Manchin broke ranks with the Democrats, saying he will not support Tanden. That means the nominee needs the backing of a Republican Senator.

Collins was the most likely candidate, or would have been if Tanden hadn’t previously attacked her. But Tanden lacked the self-restraint to avoid shooting at even the least conservative of Republican Senators.

Mitt Romney also says he won’t support Tanden. That leaves Lisa Murkowski.

To my knowledge, Sen. Murkowski hasn’t publicly taken a position. At this point, I’m not sure I’d put anything beyond Murkowski when it comes to siding with Democrats. However, it seems unlikely that, with Collins and Romney in opposition, she will rally to aid a nasty hyper-partisan Democrat like Neera Tanden.

Are any other Biden nominees in trouble? Maybe. Reportedly, Joe Manchin isn’t sold on Xavier Becerra, Biden’s pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

Becerra is an awful selection, considerably worse than Tanden. As I noted here, Becerra has no experience working at HHS, no medical background, and has never been chief executive of a state or any entity other than an attorney general’s shop.

How Becerra can be considered qualified to run HHS is beyond me. It may also be beyond Sen. Collins. She has noted his lack of relevant credentials.

Becerra is also terrible on policy. Becerra is a progressive activist whose experience in health and human services consists mainly in bullying nuns. As Rich Lowry reminds us, Becerra “went out of his way to target an exemption [from the Obamacare mandate] for the Little Sisters of the Poor.” His lawsuit against them “is still caught up in the courts even after it got rebuked by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.”

Becerra. . .chose to pursue this litigation even though it is completely meritless; even though it would, if successful, punish nuns who simply want to carry out their calling to care for the indigent elderly; and even though only ideological zealots intolerant of moral views different from their own can take any pleasure in its continuation.

What a guy. And what a “moderate” Biden is for nominating him.

The Little Sisters of the Poor litigation isn’t the only manifestation of Becerra’s extremism and bullying. The editors of National Review cite others:

In 2017, Becerra filed felony charges against the pro-life activists and citizen-journalists who had gone undercover to expose Planned Parenthood’s gruesome practice of selling the body parts of aborted babies to biotech companies. Becerra had not gone after animal-rights activists for similar investigative tactics. In response to Becerra’s actions, one writer at the left-wing magazine Mother Jones called the Planned Parenthood videos “a legitimate investigation, and no level of government should be in the business of chilling it.” Becerra was rebuked by the liberal editorial page of the Los Angeles Times for his “disturbing overreach.”

In 2018, Becerra and the State of California were smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case NIFLA v. Becerra over a state law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion.

In 2019, Becerra aggressively opposed the merger of two religiously affiliated hospital chains in California because the resulting consolidated chain could reduce access to both abortion and gender-reassignment surgeries.

In 2020, Becerra was rebuked for his zealous defense of a California law requiring abortion coverage in insurance plans offered by churches. The Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that California’s abortion mandate violated a federal law known as the Weldon amendment, which prohibits federal funding of states and localities that force health providers and insurers to participate in or cover abortion. Becerra refused to comply.

Between Becerra’s lack of relevant experience and his pro-abortion extremism, it may be possible to pick up 51 “no” votes on his nomination.

Let’s hope so. I agree with Yuval Levin:

Even in normal times, when maybe there could be some kind of excuse for treating such an important job as a sop to the radical activist wing of the president’s party, Becerra would be an especially inflammatory choice. And these are not normal times.

We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and the secretary of HHS should be more experienced with the department and its work and with the issues involved, and should not be a figure who will enflame the kinds of fears that will undermine the trust of large swaths of the country in the government’s actions, guidance, and priorities.

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