Becerra is set to testify before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, with only the latter voting on his nomination.
In his prepared opening statement first obtained by CNN, Becerra plans to address how he, as attorney general, responded to the pandemic in his own state. Becerra will say that HHS has a “central role” in meeting the ambitious goals Biden set to battle the pandemic and doing so in a bipartisan fashion.
“As attorney general, I saw the importance of this on the frontlines. I worked with colleagues in other states — both Republicans and Democrats — to make COVID treatments more readily available. I am ready to work with you, our state and local partners, and across government, to get this right,” Becerra is expected to say.
Becerra also will stress his upbringing as a son of a Mexican immigrant, his father’s recent passing and his history expanding health care access.
He has also battled the health care industry to keep costs down for consumers. In 2018, he filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, a system of 24 hospitals and more than 12,000 doctors in Northern California, for using anti-competitive practices to consolidate market power, resulting in higher health care prices. The attorney general secured a $575 million settlement that requires Sutter to change some of its practices.
In addition, Becerra has been outspoken on the fight for women’s health, the rights of undocumented immigrants and his support for Medicare for All, making him a target for attacks from Republicans and potentially more conservative Democrats.
Targeted by Republicans
Republicans have been targeting Becerra since his selection was announced. Arizona Sen. Tom Cotton on Monday launched a digital advertisement in Georgia and New Hampshire tying Becerra to California’s response to the pandemic — while pressuring any lawmakers up for election next cycle.
Cotton has been campaigning against Becerra for months, highlighting multiple issues with the nominee, from keeping California’s schools, churches and small businesses closed to his support for abortion rights.
“Xavier Becerra is a radical liberal with no real public health experience besides enforcing California’s disastrous lockdowns,” according to a statement released by Cotton’s office. “If confirmed, Xavier Becerra will put the health insurance we get at our jobs at risk. Any senator who votes for Xavier Becerra will face a reckoning from voters in the next election.”