The Biden-Harris team has selected another Latino for one of the most important positions in the country’s government.
Biden has chosen California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which would make the Latino responsible for responding to a critical moment in the fight against COVID-19.
According to the New York Times, Biden would have decided on Becerra in the last few days, according to people familiar with the transition deliberations, surprising everyone on the team.
Although Becerra has a long history of criminal justice and immigration issues, it has been his health performance over the past few months that has put him on the list of potential candidates for Biden’s Health Department, especially for his campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act.
“The A.C.A. 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,” 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.
As described by the Times, Becerra, 62, served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles, before becoming his home state’s attorney general in 2017.
He is the first Latino to hold that position, and while in Congress, he was the first Latino to serve as a senior member of the healthcare subcommittee. He also headed the House Democratic Caucus, which gave him a powerful leadership position.
As an outspoken advocate for improving access to health care, Becerra said in 2017 that he would “absolutely” support the Medicare for All program, a government-run health care proposal that Biden has explicitly rejected.
A source familiar with the selection said Becerra would support the president-elect’s call to strengthen and preserve the A.C.A. and would not be pushing Medicare for All while he is in office.
As California’s top law enforcement official, the Latino prosecutor helped lead legal struggles across the country for access to health care, focusing particularly on dismantling barriers for women struggling to obtain health care.
With information from the New York Times.