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Romney Hits Becerra on Partial-Birth Abortion: ‘Sounds Like We’re Not Going to Reach Common Ground’

National Review logo National Review 2/23/2021 Zachary Evans
Mitt Romney wearing a suit and tie: Senator Mitt Romney questions Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, during his confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021. © Sarah Silbiger/Reuters Senator Mitt Romney questions Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, during his confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2021.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah) criticized President Biden’s nominee for health secretary, California attorney general Xavier Becerra, over the latter’s refusal to ban partial-birth abortions.

Becerra, a former representative in Congress, voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions in 2000 that ultimately passed the House. Republicans have remained wary of Becerra’s record of support for abortion.

While “mainstream Republicans and mainstream Democrats disagree” on abortion, “most people agree that partial-birth abortion is awful,” Romney said at Becerra’s confirmation hearing. “You voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion. Why?”

Becerra responded, “When I come to these issues, I understand that we may not always agree on where to go, but I think we can find some common ground on these issues.”

“I think we can reach common ground on many issues,” Romney said, “but on partial-birth abortion it sounds like we’re not going to reach common ground there.”

Additionally, Senator Mike Braun (R., Ind.) asked Becerra during the hearing whether the nominee would commit to not funding abortions with taxpayer money.

“We will follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources,” Becerra said. “There I can make that commitment that we will follow the law.”

“Not really the particular answer I was looking for,” Braun commented.

It is unclear if Becerra will receive enough support to be confirmed as health secretary. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who has voted with Republicans on a number of issues, is undecided on whether to support Becerra’s confirmation.

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