On Monday, December 7, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden announced he was nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his next Secretary of Health and Human Services. While Becerra is the California Attorney General, he had served in Congress between 1993 and his elevation to Attorney General in January 2017.
As Attorney General, he has led several joint-state lawsuits against the Trump Administration. Most recently, he led an effort by several attorneys general in defense of the ACA when that case was argued before the Supreme Court this past November. If the Court were to strike-down or limit the ACA somehow, Becerra would be the key cabinet member involved in any fix.
As a House of Representatives member, he served on the Ways and Means Committee, including a stint on the Subcommittee on Human Resources, the subcommittee (now called the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee) that deals with child welfare issues. More recently, he was on the Subcommittee on Social Security and the Subcommittee on Health.
Past child welfare-related actions include: 2001 signing onto the Minority Report by House Democrats calling on the House to fully fund the reauthorization of Promoting Safe and Stable Families at the Administration’s proposed $505 million in mandatory funding instead of the Committee adoption of a $305 million reauthorization (CWLA strongly supported the higher funding); 2003 he cosponsored H.R. 625, the Child Poverty Reduction Act that would have made poverty reduction a purpose of the TANF law and would have created a child poverty reduction bonus grant to any state whose child poverty rate for a calendar year was reduced from the previous year; also in 2003 he cosponsored H.R. 624, the Chance to Succeed Act that would have amended the TANF work requirements to include as a work activity services to address barriers to work including substance abuse treatment, physical rehabilitation, and mental health, and developmental disabilities services.
In early 2019, as the California Attorney General, Becerra again led a group of state attorneys general in defense of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). That would be consistent with his congressional actions regarding tribal issues. As a member of the key House tax writing committee, he sponsored changes to the tax code that benefited tribal governments, including the 2007 Tribal Equity (H.R. 3164) that would have amended the Internal Revenue Code to permit the issuance of tax-exempt bonds by an Indian tribal government and in 2008 the Tribal Charities Fairness Act (H.R. 6005) that amended the Internal Revenue Code to provide for the treatment of Indian tribal governments as state governments for the purposes of the public charity-private foundation classification.
Other key CWLA priorities include his past co-sponsorship of the DREAM Act protecting young immigrants brought here by their parents. He also co-sponsored the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, sponsored by Congressman John Lewis, legislation that would ban discrimination in the placement and recruitment with the foster care and adoption systems. The current HHS Secretary has allowed a waiver to discriminate in foster care recruitment.