The historic announcement of Xavier Becerra as the next, and first-ever Latino, to serve as our nation’s Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services marks President-elect Biden’s commitment to ensuring his cabinet reflects our diverse nation.

This pandemic has brought a glaring light to the health inequities in our country. Latinos make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, but constitute a much larger percentage of the underinsured and uninsured in our country. Having an individual who not only has outstanding qualifications, but also understands the needs of minority communities is imperative as our country moves forward in its fight against the pandemic.

There is perhaps no one more qualified and able to meet the needs of this moment than Xavier Becerra. The son of Mexican immigrants and the first in his family to attend college, Becerra served over two decades in the House of Representatives and now leads the largest justice department of any state. In that role, he has secured dozens of victories against the Trump Administration and has helped stop the rollback of important health care protections for Americans.

As Secretary of HHS, Becerra will lead an agency that will play a crucial role in overseeing a massive immunization effort and help manage a bolstered federal response to tackle the worsening COVID-19 crisis. He will also help shape the Biden administration’s efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act and ensure that millions who have lost coverage during the pandemic have access to affordable health care.

I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to nominate Becerra to lead HHS, and look forward to supporting him and the agency’s efforts in Congress.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the author’s permission.

Editor’s Note: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has also welcomed Becerra’s nomination. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, chair of the CHC, said:

“In this moment of crisis with COVID-19 devastating Latino communities, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is proud that California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a dedicated public servant, will be nominated by President-Elect Biden to lead to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As Attorney General, Becerra led the charge to defend the Affordable Care Act, lower prescription drug costs, and protect immigrant families. Becerra has lived the American Dream and he is a champion for working families, which we saw firsthand during his tenure as a leader in Congress. We welcome the news of Becerra’s nomination, and the CHC is encouraging President-Elect Biden to appoint five Latinos in the Cabinet, including Latinas in prominent positions. We will continue to work in partnership with the Biden-Harris transition team to assemble the most diverse administration in American history.”

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