Mounting confirmation battle sends warning sign to Biden

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Growing intrigue over a trio of controversial presidential picks is also underscoring the power of individual senators such as Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, when the partisan balance is so evenly divided.

While Biden has seen blue-chip national security selections such as Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon installed, the focus on nominees whose portfolios touch on some of the most sensitive domestic political issues is bringing the confirmation process to a contentious crescendo.

And Xavier Becerra, chosen by the President to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has emerged as a culture war lightning rod over his stance on abortion and Obamacare, a perennial fault line between Republicans and Democrats.

It’s not at all unusual for new presidents to run into trouble with some nominees — or…

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