Xavier Becerra could be heading to The District in the coming year…
The 62-year-old Mexican American politician and current California Attorney General has emerged as a key contender to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, according to sources familiar with the process, as President-elect Joe Biden weighs who to tap for a role that will be critical to his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The HHS secretary position has been a source of intrigue and confusion this week, with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo being mentioned as contenders. Raimondo has said she’s no longer a candidate and Lujan Grisham’s status is now unclear.
But on Friday people close to the matter said Becerra has emerged as a “contender of interest” for the post. He’s also a top candidate for attorney general.
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has also been mentioned as a potential pick to lead Health and Human Services, but the sources said she is being eyed for other posts as well.
News of Becerra’s emergence comes as Biden faces increasing pressure to deliver on his promise to build out a diverse Cabinet. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has said it wants Lujan Grisham to be Biden’s HHS secretary and has pushed Biden to select Becerra or Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez as attorney general. Members of the caucus expressed frustration in a meeting with leaders of Biden’s transition team on Thursday over how they believe Lujan Grisham has been treated in the Cabinet selection process.
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Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Friday that the transition team will announce key members of the President-elect’s health team early next week.