WASHINGTON — With measured, circumspect remarks, Xavier Becerra deflected attacks on his record from Republican senators hoping to scuttle his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
If he is confirmed, as appeared likely as of Tuesday afternoon, Becerra will be the first person of Latino descent to head the department, at a time when inequalities in health delivery and health outcomes are at the center of the national conversation. Currently the attorney general of California, Becerra has no expertise in medicine, which led some to question why the Biden administration nominated him. The 63-year-old attorney is expected to use his legal background to help protect the Affordable Care Act, a priority for the new administration.
“This is someone who is in the weeds of health care policy, health care coverage,” Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., said in his remarks during the hearing.
Becerra, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives who returned to California to replace then-Attorney General Kamala Harris when she was elected to the U.S. Senate, is, like many other Biden nominees, a well-known entity on Capitol Hill.
Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for health and human services secretary, at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday…