President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the new administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, a surprise to many who believed the former Democratic congressman would be chosen to lead the Justice Department.
The selection of Becerra, which was first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by CNN, is a victory for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he used to lead. Latinx lawmakers had been pressing Biden to further diversify his Cabinet and include more Latinx representation. The CHC called on Biden last week to choose New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to lead HHS.
Dozens of CHC members sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday arguing for the president-elect to pick either Becerra or Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez to be the U.S. attorney general. Becerra created a name for himself mainly on the issues of criminal justice and immigration, which would have made him an unsurprising choice for the Justice Department.
But the California attorney general still has a record on health care, more recently being the leading Democratic defense of the Affordable Care Act against its latest lawsuit by Republican attorneys general. He’s also helped lead the Democratic charge for women’s health, as well as antitrust action against Sutter health care that resulted in a $575 million settlement.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.