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The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday considered the nominations of Vivek Murthy for U.S. surgeon general and Dr. Rachel Levine for assistant secretary of Health and Human Services.
Watch the hearing in the video player above.
Murthy, who previously served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama, was expected to testify that his top priority if confirmed for the position will be ending the coronavirus pandemic, according to prepared remarks obtained by ABC.
“This is a moment of tremendous suffering for our nation. More than half a million people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including beloved members of my own family,” Murthy, who lost seven family members in the U.S. and India to the coronavirus, was prepared to tell Congress.
“If confirmed as surgeon general, my highest priority will be to help end this pandemic, work I’ve been doing over the past year with state and local officials, schools and universities, businesses, health care providers, and others,” Murthy said.
Levine, who previously served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, will be the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate if her nomination goes through.
“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement when he announced Levine’s nomination last month. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.
Courtney Vinopal is a general assignment reporter at the PBS NewsHour.
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