Joe Biden reportedly has selected California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
The New York Times first reported that Becerra would be selected for the post. He has been attorney general of California since 2017, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to the post to succeed Kamala Harris after she was elected to the Senate. Becerra was easily elected to a four-year term in 2018.
Becerra had been thought to be in line for U.S. attorney general or for the Senate seat that will be vacated when Harris becomes vice president. Gov. Gavin Newsom will get to appoint the next Senator and, if Becerra is confirmed to the cabinet post, also would fill the attorney general post.
Becerra has been at the forefront of legal challenges to Trump administration policies on immigration and the environment, and also filed a brief defending the Affordable Care Act the Supreme Court considers the legality of a key provision of the law. Before he was attorney general, he was a longtime congressman representing a Los Angeles district.
The next HHS secretary will be starting in the midst of what could be the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, along with the challenge of distributing a vaccine to all Americans.
Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, an advocacy group, said in a statement that Becerra “has all the skills and qualifications necessary to execute President-elect Biden’s bold plans to increase access to quality care, lower skyrocketing prescription drug prices, make health care more affordable, strengthen Medicare and Medicaid and work to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.”