The selection of Mr. . Becerra, the California attorney general, is a surprise. If this is confirmed, he will face a daunting challenge in running the department at a critical moment in the pandemic.
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. . Biden Jr. . has selected Xavier Becerra, the Democratic attorney general of California, as his candidate for secretary for health and human services and tapped a former congressman who would become the first Latino to lead the division in the fight against the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. . Becerra became Mr.. . Biden’s clear decision over the past few days came as a surprise to those familiar with the transition considerations. Mr. Becerra profiled more on criminal justice, immigration, and tax policy, and he has long been considered a candidate for attorney general.
But as an attorney general in California, he was at the forefront of legal health efforts, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act from being scrapped by Republican attorneys general. He was also a leading voice in the Democratic Party for Women’s Health.
If confirmed, sir. Becerra will be immediately faced with a daunting task leading the division at a critical moment during a pandemic that saw more than 281. 000 people died in the USA – and which is a particularly devastating burden for people of color.
“The A. . C.. . ONE. has changed lives and now, with this pandemic, we can all see the value of having better access to quality healthcare at affordable prices, ”said Mr. . Becerra said in June when he filed a brief in defense of the Health Act with the Supreme Court. “Now is not the time to tear away our best tools to address very real and very deadly health inequalities in our communities. ”
A spokesman for Mr.. . Biden’s transition team declined to comment. The president-elect plans, mr. Becerra as his decision to head the health department earlier this week, along with several other top health advisors, according to people familiar with the rollout.
Dr. . Vivek Murthy, who served as Surgeon General under President Barack Obama, will take on this role for Mr.. . Biden. Telegen and confidante of the President-Elect, Mr.. . Murthy becomes one of Mr.. . Biden’s closest advisor on medical issues and will lead much of the public relations work on the pandemic.
Jeffrey D. . Zients, an entrepreneur and management consultant who served as the head of Mr.. . Obama’s National Economic Council and the botched rollout of the Health Act’s online insurance market become a coronavirus tsar in the White House leading efforts among sprawling government agencies to coordinate the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the medical experts who urged the Biden team to name individuals with medical or public knowledge who serve in leadership positions in the healthcare sector were – and unfortunately – heard of the news from Mr.. . Selection of Becerra.
In a letter last week to Mr.. Biden, five leading medical groups – including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians – urged the President-Elect to “appoint qualified physicians who hold key positions critical to the advancement of our nation’s health. ”
One person familiar with these efforts said the people involved were from the selection of Mr.. . Becerra and suggested that mr. Biden raise Dr. . Murthy to a position at cabinet level.
Mr. . Becerra, 62, served 12 terms in Congress and represented Los Angeles before becoming his home state’s attorney general in 2017. He is the first Latino to hold this post, and during his Congress he was the first Latino to serve on the Ways and Means Committee. He also headed the House Democratic Caucus, which gave him a powerful leadership position.
A strong proponent of improved access to health care, Mr.. . Becerra said in 2017 that he would « absolutely » support Medicare for All, a proposal for government-run health care, the Lord. Biden specifically refused. A source familiar with the selection said, sir. Becerra would support the president-elect’s call for the Affordable Care Act to be strengthened and upheld, and not promote Medicare for everyone in office.
As California’s top law enforcement officer, Mr.. . Becerra took a lead role in statewide litigation over access to health care, particularly focusing on breaking barriers for women struggling to get medical care.
In April, Mr.. Becerra led a coalition of 22 attorneys general to challenge a Mississippi bill that banned doctors from providing abortion services for the past 15 weeks. In a statement at the time, Mr.. Becerra called the ban “unjust, illegal and unfair. ”
« Laws like that of Mississippi are a systematic attempt to protect the constitutional rights of a woman under Roe v. Wade, ”he said. “I will continue to advocate safe access to reproductive care and defend these rights for all women. ”
Mr. . Becerra’s office frequently bragged about the many lawsuits it filed against the Trump administration, including lawsuits against the president’s immigration and environmental policies. His activism in fighting the Trump agenda in court earned him praise from leading progressives in the Democratic Party.
In September, Mr.. Becerra said the number of his anti-Trump lawsuits rose to 100 during the president’s first term.
But Mr.. . Becerra also worked intermittently with Republican counterparts, and in August joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general to urge the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to improve access to remdesivir, a drug that is used in the treatment of Covid-19 has shown promise. He also worked with Republicans to prevent student evaporation.
Born in Sacramento, Mr.. . Becerra grew up in a working class family; his mother emigrated from Mexico. None of his parents had « much formal education, » according to an official, and he was the first in his family to graduate from college. He attended Stanford as a student and received his law degree there in 1984.
Mr. . Biden was impressed with Mr.. . Becerra’s personal story, such a person familiar with his thinking. The President-Elect particularly liked the fact that Mr.. Becerra served clients with mental health problems shortly after graduating from law school, the person said.
During his convention, he was a staunch advocate of the Latino community and was deeply committed to overhauling the nation’s immigration system. He also sponsored a national museum devoted to researching the culture and history of American Latinos. The house voted this year to create such a museum.
Representative Filemon Vela, Democrat of Texas, praised Mr.. Biden’s choice of Mr.. . Calling it « historic, » Becerra said the California attorney general was the right person to lead the sprawling agency during the worst public health crisis in 100 years.
« Becerra will lead an agency that will play a vital role in overseeing massive vaccination efforts and helping to address a reinforced federal response to address the worsening Covid-19 crisis, » Becerra said. Said Vela. “He will also help shape the efforts of the Biden government to build on the Affordable Care Act. ”
But under his leadership, the Hispanic caucus of Congress lost its bipartisan membership. In the late 1990s, Mr.. Becerra traveled to Cuba and visited with his guide Fidel Castro, which enraged the republican members of the caucus. They resigned and said they were « personally offended » by the visit.
Mr. . Biden’s selection of Mr.. . Becerra arrives as the president-elect faces mounting pressure from the Latino community and Hispanic caucus in Congress to diversify his cabinet. Gov. . Michelle Lujan Grisham, of New Mexico, was believed to have been eligible for the job of Minister of Health, but she appeared to be out of the running. Instead, it was announced last week that Dr. . Lujan Grisham was offered the position of interior minister and was rejected.
The leak prompted New Mexico Senator-elect Ben Ray Luján to use a private meeting with top Biden advisors to ask the new White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and other high-ranking Biden officials for their treatment of women to blame. Lujan Grisham, such a democrat familiar with the discussion.
Mr. . Luján’s frustration showed broader concern that few Latinos were selected for high-level positions in the Biden administration. Alejandro N. . Mayorkas, a Cuban American and a candidate for Homeland Security, was the only Hispanic selected for a cabinet job.
A person who is familiar with the selection process, said Ms.. Lujan Grisham continued to co-chair Mr.. . Biden’s transition and would remain closely involved in fighting the pandemic even after he took office.
Xavier Becerra, Joe Biden, Attorney General of California, US Department of Health, US Department of Health, California, United States Senate
World News – USA – Biden elects Xavier Becerra to lead health – and personnel service