KEY VOTE: “NO” on the confirmation of Xavier Becerra

KEY VOTE: Senate · Mar 11, 2021

Heritage Action opposes the Becerra nomination and will include the confirmation vote on our legislative scorecard.

The Senate is soon expected to vote on the confirmation of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). President Biden announced on December 7, 2020, that he would nominate Becerra to the post. He currently serves as Attorney General for the state of California and previously spent 24 years in the House of Representatives.

As Secretary of HHS, Xavier Becerra would be in charge of running the CDC, FDA, NIH, and other federal health agencies that continue to carry out the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes overseeing arguably the most important initiatives that the federal government is currently carrying out—distribution of COVID vaccines. The current situation calls for a nominee with relevant experience. Yet, President Biden has chosen to nominate Becerra, who holds radical views on healthcare policy and lacks any real-world healthcare experience. Even the liberal Washington Post has said that Becerra has “an unorthodox background” for the position. In short, it makes no more sense to nominate a lawyer like Becerra to head HHS than it does to nominate a medical doctor to be Attorney General.

Becerra supports ending private health insurance and giving the federal government total control of the nation’s healthcare system through the implementation of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal. In fact, his support for a socialist healthcare state is not recent political opportunism to remain popular with the Left—in his own words, he has been "a single-payer advocate my whole life."

If implemented, Medicare for All would make most Americans worse off. According to a study from The Heritage Foundation, average disposable income for all households would decline by $5,761, and more than 70% of the population would pay more in taxes than they would save on healthcare expenses. This flies in the face of claims from single-payer advocates that American medical spending would decrease under the proposal. Additionally, government-run healthcare would diminish Americans’ access to quality healthcare. In 2018, patients in Canada and Great Britain, both of which employ single-payer systems, waited for two months or longer to see specialists at rates of more than three and six and a half times higher than patients in the United States, respectively. On top of this is Medicare for All’s $34.5 trillion price tag over 10 years (as estimated by the left-wing Urban Institute). As Secretary of HHS, Becerra would use his power to push the United States closer to the system he has spent his entire career advocating for.

In addition to his support for single-payer, Becerra’s embrace of the abortion industry also falls well outside the mainstream, even among Democrat voters. In 2000, Becerra voted against banning partial-birth abortions and refused opportunities to change that stance during his Senate confirmation hearings. Additionally, he has been called an "abortion-rights maximalist" by the New York Times and pursued criminal charges against pro-life activists who uncovered evidence of Planned Parenthood’s potentially illegal profits from selling body parts of aborted babies.

Becerra went far beyond just using his power as Attorney General to protect Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. He weaponized his power and attacked the religious freedom of groups that do not align with his partisan views. He infamously targeted the Little Sisters of the Poor for seeking an exemption to Obamacare’s mandate that health plans cover contraceptives and has advocated for keeping abortion clinics open during the COVID-19 pandemic while working to keep churches closed. Becerra’s animosity for religious groups runs deep—in 2017, he stated:

I think it’s important to distinguish between protections that you’re affording to the individual to exercise his or her religion freely, versus protections you are giving to some institution or entity who’s essentially bootstrapping the first amendment protections on behalf of somebody else.

The pattern is clear: Beccera will use whatever power is at his disposal to attack groups that disagree with his far-Left views, regardless of how it infringes on the rights of Americans. Nothing in his past suggests this will change if he is confirmed to HHS.

Xavier Becerra would be the wrong choice to lead HHS under any circumstances due to his extreme partisan views that fall outside the mainstream of even the Democratic Party. His lack of healthcare experience makes him an especially bad pick as the United States faces a public health crisis. The Senate should reject Xavier Becerra’s nomination.


The Heritage Foundation: The “Public Option”: Government-Run Health Care on the Installment Plan

Heritage Action opposes the Becerra nomination and will include the confirmation vote on our legislative scorecard.