Becerra confirmed to run HHS

The California Attorney General is already a firm defender of the Affordable Care Act, which his new role tasks him with repairing.

The Senate narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In a vote of 50 to 49, Becerra was confirmed in a contentious debate over his qualifications. The 62-year-old former congressman was tapped to fill Kamala Harris’ role as top cop of the golden state in 2017. The son of Mexican immigrants, he is the first Latino to lead HHS.

In his new position Becerra will be called upon to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, a law that he helped to write during his time in congress and which he has defended in court as California joined 20 other states in a legal battle to stop the health care law from being struck down.

The New York Times reports that sources close to Becerra say health access and equity will be a major theme of his work with HHS where he will be on the forefront of the national battle against the COVID-19 pandemic which has only highlighted inequality in the health care system.

His nomination was opposed by Republicans who argued that, as a lawyer, he is unqualified to run the sprawling health department. Conservative lawmakers and pro-life groups also opposed his nomination labeling him an abortion “extremist,” according to Fox News.