Wed, 14 Apr 2021

Senators to Question Biden Trade, Health Nominees

Voice of America
25 Feb 2021, 19:35 GMT+10

U.S. Senate committees will hear testimony Thursday from three more of President Joe Biden's nominees, including his picks to be the country's trade representative, its top public health official and the assistant secretary of health.

Katherine Tai, nominee for U.S. trade representative, is set to tell the Finance Committee that she would prioritize rebuilding international alliances and re-engaging with international institutions to address common challenges such as climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.

In her written testimony released ahead of the hearing, Tai says she would focus on enforcing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, saying the deal reached during former President Donald Trump's administration marked "an important step in reforming our approach to trade."

Tai, who for several years was the head of China enforcement at the trade representative's office, also highlights a need to keep China accountable.

"I know firsthand how critically important it is that we have a strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its model of state-directed economics,'' Tai said.

In the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, lawmakers will hear testimony from Dr. Vivek Murthy, Biden's nominee for surgeon general who is seeking to return to the post he held during former President Barack Obama's administration.

In his written statement, obtained by ABC News, Murthy says his top priority will be ending the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 505,000 people in the United States.

"I have seen first-hand the importance of providing clear, science-based guidance to Americans on how to protect themselves and others," Murthy said.

The same committee will consider the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Levine formerly served as health secretary in the state of Pennsylvania, where she was one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions in the United States.

She would be the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

The full Senate will also meet Thursday to vote on the nomination of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to serve as energy secretary.

The Senate Energy Committee gave its approval to Granholm in a 13-4 vote earlier this month.

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