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Originally Published March 18, 2021
It’s official: former California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, will be the country’s first Latino Health and Human Services secretary. He was finally confirmed today.
The final senate vote happened this morning. The tally? 50 yays, 49 nays.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote for Becerra… and Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii did not vote.
Becerra was a Democratic congressman before becoming California’s Attorney General. [Editor’s note: he represented the 34th Congressional District, which includes Boyle Heights.] And according to NPR, he faced significant GOP opposition ever since he was nominated:
As attorney general, he sued the Trump administration dozens of times over health care, the environment and other issues. His critics targeted his support of abortion rights and argued his lack of a health care background makes him an unqualified nominee.
LAist/KPCC politics reporter Libby Denkmann says “dozens” is actually an understatement –- Becerra filed over 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration during his tenure as AG.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Becerra’s nomination was intentionally stalled by Republicans in Congress and “should not have taken this long,” NPR reported.
Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom will need to pick Becerra’s replacement as California’s AG.
Newsom hasn’t indicated who he’ll choose, but word has it top candidates include Burbank democratic congressman Adam Schiff and Oakland state assemblymember Rob Bonta.
— MEGAN NGUYEN
This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2021 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.