WASHINGTON, D.C. (KRON) — President-elect Joe Biden has selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response.
This after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus continuously pushed for more Latinos in the cabinet.
If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
As California’s attorney general, Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic states defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.
Overseeing the coronavirus response will be the most complicated task Becerra has ever contemplated. By next year, the U.S. will be engaged in a mass vaccination campaign, the groundwork for which has been laid under the Trump administration. Although the vaccines appear very promising, and no effort has been spared to plan for their distribution, it’s impossible to tell yet how well things will go when it’s time to get shots in the arms of millions of Americans.
Becerra has served as the 33rd and current Attorney General of California since 2017.
Governor Gavin Newsom sent his congratulations to Becerra.
He was previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Downtown Los Angeles in Congress from 1993 to 2017.
His mother was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and emigrated to the U.S. after marrying his father.
The Associated Press contributed to this report