BIDEN PICKS XAVIER BECERRA TO HEAD HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has selected Xavier Becerra, the Democratic attorney general of California, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, tapping a former congressman who would be the first Latino to run the department as it battles the surging coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Becerra, who served 12 terms in Congress as Los Angeles congressman, became Mr. Biden’s clear choice only over the past few days, according to people familiar with the transition’s deliberations, and was a surprise. Mr. Becerra has carved out a profile more on the issues of criminal justice, immigration and tax policy, and he was long thought to be a candidate for attorney general, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear reported for New York Times on December 6, 2020 (early Monday, December 7, 2020 in Manila).
But in California, he has been at the forefront of legal efforts on health care, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from being dismantled by his Republican counterparts. He has also been vocal in the Democratic Party about fighting for women’s health. If confirmed, Mr. Becerra will immediately face a daunting task in leading the department at a critical moment during a pandemic that has killed more than 282,000 people in the United States — and one that has taken a particularly devastating toll on people of color.
"The ACA has been life-changing and now through this pandemic, we can all see the value in having greater access to quality health care at affordable prices,” Mr. Becerra said in June, when he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in defense of the health care law. “Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities.”