Know a Nominee: Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services
Do you support or oppose Becerra’s nomination?
- The Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The vote was mostly along party-lines, as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the lone Republican senator to vote in favor, while Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) did not vote.
- Becerra will resign as California attorney general before he begins his duties at HHS.
UPDATE 3/17/21 (1:40pm EDT)
- The Senate voted 50-49 on Wednesday morning to limit further debate on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. A confirmation vote could occur later Wednesday or Thursday.
- The vote was mostly along party-lines, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) the only Republican to vote in favor. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) did not vote.
The Senate is expected to consider the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the near future, starting with a procedural vote this week. Here’s what you need to know about the nominee:
Who is Xavier Becerra?
- Becerra, 63, is the Attorney General of California and has served in that role since January 2017 under former Governor Jerry Brown (D) and current Governor Gavin Newsom (D). Prior to his appointment as attorney general, Becerra served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 terms from 1993 to 2017 and represented the Los Angeles area.
- While in Congress, Becerra chaired the House Democratic Caucus for two terms, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for one term, and served in several other leadership positions within the Democratic Party hierarchy. He held positions on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
- He was considered for Cabinet-level positions during the Obama administration, when he declined the role of U.S. Trade Representative and was vetted as a vice presidential candidate by Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign.
- Becerra earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Stanford Law School.
What’s the outlook for his nomination?
- Becerra went through contentious confirmation hearings before the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
- Republicans criticized Becerra’s nomination over his lack of healthcare experience, along with lawsuits he initiated as California attorney general that sought to revoke conscience exemptions for religious groups from contraceptive mandates and uphold restrictions on indoor religious services during the coronavirus pandemic (which were mostly rejected by the Supreme Court).
- The Senate Finance Committee didn’t favorably report Becerra’s nomination after it deadlocked in a tie vote of 14-14 along party-lines.
- The full Senate voted 51-48 to discharge Becerra’s nomination from the committee to allow for floor consideration, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) the only Republican senator to vote in favor of his nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said he would support Becerra’s nomination after receiving assurances the nominee would uphold the law with regard to the Hyde Amendment, also voted in favor.
What does it mean for HHS?
- The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) manages programs related to the health and welfare of U.S. citizens. It regulates food products and new pharmaceutical drugs, administers Medicare and Medicaid and other national health programs, endeavors to prevent the outbreak and spread of diseases, and funds medical research.
- HHS employed 79,540 people and had a $1.02 trillion budget in fiscal year 2015. Notable sub-agencies include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
— Eric Revell
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