- President-elect Joe Biden has picked Xavier Becerra to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, The New York Times reported Sunday.
- A former congressman from Los Angeles, Becerra has served as California’s attorney general since 2017.
- If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the department.
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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Becerra, 62, previously represented Los Angeles as a member of Congress, where he served in the Democratic leadership. He has served as California attorney general since 2017, succeeding Kamala Harris, the current president-elect, who left the post to join the US Senate.
The Times noted that if confirmed by the Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the US health department.
As secretary of health and human services, Becerra would be charged with helping to tackle a surging pandemic and administration of hundreds of millions of vaccine doses. Coronavirus infections as well as COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are soaring in the US.
CADOJ led a coalition opposing dangerous HHS deregulation by the Trump Administration.
As he’s on his way out, in the midst of a pandemic, the president is sowing chaos in our healthcare systems. https://t.co/YbhehQRF0r
— Archive – Attorney General Becerra (@AGBecerra) December 4, 2020
Becerra might also have to undo roadblocks set by the outgoing Trump administration. On Friday, he led a coalition of state attorneys general in challenging what they call a “misguided and dangerous attempt at deregulation” within HHS that “would hamstring the incoming Biden administration in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Specifically, the Trump administration is seeking to automatically “sunset” any HHS regulation that is not reviewed within a set period of time. Critics maintain that this would force limited resources to be redirected toward preserving existing rules, jeopardizing funding streams for state governments and, the attorneys general argue in a letter, making “it difficult, if not impossible, for the incoming Administration to enact new regulations aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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