HHS nominee Becerra says pandemic will be top priority

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s pick for health secretary, Xavier Becerra, faces two days of contentious Senate hearings. Republicans are portraying the Californian as unfit, but Democrats are unfazed, accusing the GOP of playing politics despite the coronavirus pandemic. Appearing before a health committee Tuesday, Becerra said it’s clear the coronavirus pandemic will be his top priority if confirmed. He says “the president has ambitious goals – 100 million vaccine shots in arms in his first 100 days, increasing access to testing, sequencing the virus so we’re prepared for the variants, and reopening schools and businesses.” But ranking Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said he isn’t sold yet on Becerra, leaving no doubt he faces a tough road to win GOP support.