President-elect Joe Biden is nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the transition team announced today.
If confirmed by the United States Senate, Becerra would serve a critical role in the administration’s response to a pandemic that has killed more than 282,000 Americans as of Sunday evening.
Becerra, a former member of Congress, emerged as the leading contender for the critical role after other candidates with more health care expertise were ruled out.
The New York Times was first to report the expected nomination.
Here are some key things to know about Becerra:
- Becerra is the first Latino to serve as the attorney general of California and has been in the post since 2017.
- He has been a fierce opponent of President Trump, and the state of California has brought more than 100 lawsuits against the President and his administration’s policies.
- More than half of the lawsuits are over environmental policies, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the Trump administration had either put in place or removed.
- Becerra has also been a leader in the fight to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that Trump has attempted to abolish that has shielded from deportation certain undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
- One of Becerra’s highest-profile health care roles recently has been chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court.With the Trump administration joining a coalition of Republican state attorneys general fighting to invalidate the landmark health reform law, Becerra has led a group of Democratic attorneys general arguing why the law remains valid. At issue is whether Congress’ reducing the penalty for not having health insurance to zero rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, which would cause the entire law to fall.
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