Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig was joined by former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and frontline physician Dr. Cedric Dark  

The three experts outlined how Senate Republicans have delayed and threatened to oppose President Biden’s HHS secretary, threatening our country’s COVID-19 response and the new administration’s ability to continue tackling the pandemic 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig was joined by former Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Houston-based emergency room Dr. Cedric Dark in a press call to discuss the dangers posed to public health and the national COVID-19 response by Senate Republicans who have delayed and threatened to oppose the confirmation of Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee. Kathleen Sebelius, who served as HHS secretary in the Obama administration during the H1N1 outbreak, laid out the role HHS plays during a public health crisis and the complete failures of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. Dr. Cedric Dark is an emergency medicine physician working on the frontlines in Houston, Texas, and spoke to his personal experience battling COVID-19 as a healthcare professional with little to no support from the federal government for nearly a year. 

“Over 465,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. That’s 465,000 people who might still be here today if the Trump administration hadn’t completely botched the handling of the pandemic. Now that we’re here — Senate Republicans need to end the games, end the politics, stop fighting for special interests — and work with Democrats to quickly confirm Becerra and let him get to work,” said Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig. 

“Everyone in the United States is impacted in some way, shape, or form on a daily basis by the Department of HHS. This agency is always important, but even more essential in the midst of huge health and economic crises. To not have a confirmed secretary in this position will cost lives, cause hardships, and prevent states from being able to address the pandemic. Every day of delay is dangerous. It’s dangerous to our country, dangerous to our recovery, and dangerous to lives and livelihoods. The good news is that there is an incredible team in the White House already in place, but President Biden needs his full Cabinet to continue making progress on controlling the pandemic. Xavier Becerra is ready to hit the ground running as HHS Secretary, so senate Republicans need to get out of the way and let him get to work,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 

“Physicians and health care workers across the country have been working on this situation for nearly a year now, and often we’ve been working ahead of the federal government. In the emergency room, I don’t have the luxury to delay care or provide patients with relief when I feel like it. If I delay something, someone dies. In the last year, the delays in action from our state and federal leaders have killed people, whether it’s failing to implement mask mandates, enforce lockdowns, or social distancing measures. Physicians and nurses have been doing our job, but we need the help of our state and federal government to manage this crisis. We can make progress on tackling this pandemic, but we can’t do it alone,” said Dr. Cedric Dark. 

Senate Republicans have made their intentions clear since Xavier Becerra was announced as President Biden’s pick to lead HHS, doing everything in their power during the lame-duck period to delay, obstruct, and discredit the nominee to protect their Big Pharma donors. Just days after he was announced, Republican senators voiced their concerns over the nominee’s lack of ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Now, Senate Republicans are throwing any flimsy attack at the wall trying to see what will stick, rather than admit that Becerra’s record of taking on special interests, especially Big Pharma, is a direct threat to their donors’ bottom line. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, playing games with the nation’s top health official is unconscionable. 

Over 465,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration needs to have its full Cabinet, including the leader of the nation’s top health agency, in place to get the pandemic under control. As millions continue to get sick and lose their lives, as hospitals reach capacity, as millions remain unemployed and are forced into poverty, Republican senators are continuing to prioritize their Big Pharma donors’ bottom line over the pain and suffering of their constituents. It’s another day where small businesses are forced to stay shut, some forced to close their doors for good. The Biden administration needs to have all hands on deck to tackle the pandemic, and the roadblock standing in their way shouldn’t be members of Congress causing unnecessary delays by waging political wars. These delays have real-life consequences, and senate Republicans must put the needs of their constituents ahead of their special interests by ensuring Becerra is confirmed as HHS secretary.

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