On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Dr. Rachel Levine, who serves as the Secretary of Health for Pennsylvania, as the Assistant Secretary for Health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
“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 release about the nomination. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
“Dr. Rachel Levine is a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “President-elect Biden and I look forward to working with her to meet the unprecedented challenges facing Americans and rebuild our country in a way that lifts everyone up.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Levine would become the first openly transgender federal official confirmed.
Levine joined Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration as the Physician General in January 2015, prior to being named Acting Secretary of Health in July 2017 and confirmed as the Secretary of Health in March 2018.
Wolf lauded Levine’s service in Pennsylvania and congratulated her on the appointment into the incoming-Biden administration.
“Dr. Levine is a highly skilled and valued member of my administration and she will be greatly missed. She has been a wise and dedicated partner during this pandemic and throughout her career with the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the tireless work she’s done to serve Pennsylvanians and protect the public health.”
“Her work for our commonwealth has been transformational and I appreciate it more than I can say,” Wolf continued. “I and the people of Pennsylvania owe her a debt of gratitude for her leadership, strength and dedication to protecting every person’s health amid unprecedented circumstances – and, at times, amid hateful distractions. Dr. Levine is both competent and compassionate, and never lets the anger or fear of others sway her from her goals.”
Sen. Bob Casey also praised Levine, saying that she is “exactly the kind of crisis-tested leader our Nation needs” in the position she was nominated for.
Although Democrats have touted Levine’s actions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the AP notes that she has also “earned plenty of enmity from Republicans and small-business owners over statewide public health orders for people to stay at home, students to learn remotely, and businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” to close.”