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Sen. Pat Toomey Opposes Dr. Rachel Levine's Nomination As Assistant Secretary Of Health

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA/AP) - Sen. Pat Toomey says he's voting to oppose Dr. Rachel Levine's nomination as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary of health.

Levine is Pennsylvania's former health secretary. She left the position after she was tapped to join Biden's administration.

"In Pennsylvania, the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes disproportionately hard compared to other states. This was due in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration," Toomey said in a statement on Wednesday.

He also criticized pandemic lockdowns, calling them "excessive" and "arbitrary in nature" and saying they led to slower recovery.

"While I appreciate Dr. Levine's service and responsiveness to my office over the past year, she has not earned a promotion to help lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and I cannot support her confirmation," Toomey said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set up confirmation votes this week for Levine, along with Shalanda Young, the current nominee for deputy budget director, and Vivek Murthy for surgeon general, among others, before the Senate adjourns for recess until mid-April.

President Joe Biden's Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. But the work of building his administration is just beginning, as Biden has hundreds of key presidential appointments to make to fill out the federal government.

If confirmed, Levine would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

Levine is a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general and became the state's secretary of health in 2017. The Biden administration selected Dr. Levine because of her role in leading the state through the coronavirus pandemic.

(TM and © Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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