WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for health secretary has cleared a key hurdle. The Senate voted Thursday to move ahead with the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York forced a vote to overcome Republican opposition that succeeded 51-48. The action puts Biden one step closer to filling the top position at Health and Human Services, a department that is playing a key role in the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans opposing Becerra has voiced concern about his record in support of abortion rights.