Most of President Biden’s candidates are set to run through the US Senate with easy confirmation, with the exception of the candidate for director of office and leadership, but Republicans are targeting a handful of his other picks in hopes of discrediting them as they prepare for new government positions.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will face two confirmation hearings this week for his appointment as head of the Department of Health and Human Services. A former congressman with no public health background, Republicans not only seize this loophole in his resume, but also attack his work as California’s chief prosecutor.
Over the past week, commercials funded by Heritage Action for America, a political arm of the Heritage Foundation think tank, have aired on cable news networks that raise questions about Becerra’s qualifications and some of the affairs that ‘he filed as a California attorney, including a case against Catholic nuns Little Sisters of the Poor for her religious opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
“He’s a radical supporter, an activist, not a doctor,” the announcer said in the ad, which aired on Fox News Channel, among other networks. The ad is part of a larger campaign of around $ 2 million against Becerra and Vanita Gupta, appointed Associate Attorney General, the third position in the Department of Justice. The Judicial Crisis Network runs advertisements against Gupta that highlight his past comments on criminal justice reform and the “defeat the police” movement.
Being a doctor is not a prerequisite for the job Becerra was nominated for, and there have been many HHS secretaries who weren’t doctors. His predecessor, Alex Azar, also did not have a medical degree, but had been the HHS principal lawyer and deputy secretary under the Bush administration and later as president of the US division of Eli Lilly and Company, a large pharmaceutical sector, before leading the department. .
Democrats have defended Becerra’s appointment, noting that although he is not a public health professional, he has spent much of his two dozen years in Congress pushing for health care reform and for the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the early years of the Obama administration. More recently, in California, Democrats say he has used his perch to defend the constitutionality of the law and the Trump administration’s attempts to cut corners on aspects of the law.
A smaller, more targeted ad campaign not only casts doubt on Becerra, but can be interpreted as an early salvo of the 2024 Republican presidential campaign. Senator Tom Cotton, potential Arkansas GOP candidate for 2024, draws on his own campaign coffers to fund digital ads in New Hampshire and Georgia to build public support against Becerra’s nomination. He hopes to put pressure on Democratic Senators Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire and Raphael Warnock, of Georgia, who face re-election in 2022 and whom Republicans feel vulnerable to a major GOP challenge.
The 30-second Cotton vs. Becerra spot notes that he must be Mr Biden’s “health care secretary”, but backed the “Medicare for All” health care proposal backed by Liberal Senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and as Attorney General. , he “defended the disastrous California lockdowns that destroyed small businesses and injured school children.”
The criticism sparked stronger support for Becerra ahead of her hearing Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and a hearing scheduled for Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee. Due to the HHS ‘broad reach on health policy and health care programs, Becerra’s appointment is formally being considered by both groups.
Some Becerra supporters note that he would be the first Latino to lead the department, while others, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of Planned Parenthood, note that he is a longtime supporter of rights. to abortion.
“Becerra’s experience, leadership and dedication to racial equity make him the right person to guide us through these crises,” Alexis McGillis Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “He also understands that reproductive health care – including abortion – is health care and should be treated as such by our elected leaders and senior health officials.”