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IT'S OFFICIAL: Dr. Rachel Levine Confirmed As U.S. Senate's First Openly Transgender Official

Former Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.
Former Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. Photo Credit: Office of PA Governor Tom Wolf/Wikipedia

The former Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed Wednesday as the US Assistant Health Secretary --  making her the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Wednesday's 52-48 vote broke down along partly line with only two exceptions, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Pa. Senator Republican Pat Toomey did not vote to confirm Dr. Levine. Toomey says, "Levine Has Not Earned a Promotion to Help Lead HHS”

“In Pennsylvania, the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes disproportionately hard compared to other states," Toomey said.

"This was due in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration. Moreover, the commonwealth’s extended economic lockdown that Dr. Levine advocated for was excessive, arbitrary in nature, and has led to a 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.”

Pennsylvania's Democratic Senator Bob Casey continues to support Levine, praising the confirmation on Twitter:

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Levine was one of the suggests of attacks on social media, specially in a private Facebook group called the "Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom" whose group members include current and retired police. 

The AP report stated that one retired officer posted, "Someone needs to shoot this thing!!”

In January, a Pennsylvania State legislator Republican Jeff Pyle mocked Levine’s appearance on Facebook and later issued an apology.

State Rep. Jeff Pyle, a Republican representing Armstrong and Indiana counties said on Facebook that he “had no idea” the post mocking Levine “would be … received as poorly as it was” but that “tens of thousands of heated emails assured me it was.”

She will be sworn in later this week.

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