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Capitol Correspondence - 04.26.21

CMS Administrator’s Confirmation Votes Face New Delay

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Despite earlier forecasts by political observers that Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation for CMS Administrator would advance smoothly, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) delayed the Finance Committee and Senate floor votes critical to her confirmation by placing a hold on her nomination. He did so to retaliate against the Biden administration for revoking approval for a Texas Medicaid waiver that got the green light towards the end of the Trump Administration. The waiver had been considered by the Biden administration as an attempt by Texas to avoid expanding its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Senator Cornyn then received backing from his fellow Republican Senators on the Finance Committee, resulting in a deadlocked Senate Finance Committee vote.

Despite the roadblock, insiders do not expect Brooks-LaSure’s nomination to be derailed altogether. A similar situation arose last month over Xavier Becerra’s confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, in which the Senate Majority Leader used a process known as a discharge petition to release the nomination to the floor. The same process is expected for Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation, but the move will delay her confirmation vote and, by consequence, the date when she takes office. It also prevents progress on administration priorities which fall beyond the scope of the current Acting Director.