Saturday, May 25, 2024

Joe Biden Picked Xavier Becerra to Lead Health & Human Services

Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden picked Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and created  brand new senior White House positions intended to produce a more aggressive response to COVID-19, which includes addressing the impact on Black people and Latinos.

Becerra has served 12 terms in the House of Representatives and was also a defender of the Affordable Care Act which led defense of the law in the Supreme Court. Becerra is the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and would hold the most consequential Cabinet role in the new Biden Administration.

He is the son of an immigrant mother from Mexico and a father who moved between the U.S. and Mexico. Becerra was the first in his family graduate from college and he began his career as a legal aid attorney supporting clients who were dealing with mental health.

Becerra was elected in California in 2016 to manage the largest state justice department in the US. He has extensive experience in his role as he worked with Republican officials to  increase access to new COVID-19 treatments and led legal obstacles to opioid manufacturers. Becerra’s appointment came as a surprise because he was not originally mentioned as a contender for the position.

New Mexico’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, was a top contender for the position but fell out after she rejected the position for interior secretary. Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s governor, was also a top contender but she took herself out stating that her focus was to decrease the spiking COVID-19 cases in her state.

As the Trump Administration makes detailed preparations for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine, Biden has sought to build a team with extensive significant experience in public health, government, and crisis management skills in order to restore the public’s trust in the federal response.