On Tuesday, the Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for Xavier Beccera, President Biden’s nominee to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services.
A lifelong politician, Becerra was first elected to the House, representing downtown Los Angeles, in 1993, going on to serve 12 terms before being tapped in 2017 to become California’s next attorney general. The hearing will likely be fraught with critical questions, as the AG enjoys a substantial record of controversial comments, actions and beliefs.
Below are ten of Xavier Becerra’s most controversial hits.
1. In 2017, Becerra sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns, over their religious exemption from the HHS contraceptive mandate, ultimately attempting to force the nuns to provide health care services contrary to their religious beliefs. Becerra spearheaded the four year case against the nuns but ultimately his argument was struck down in the courts. One Sister had this to say during the debacle, “We pray that the court will protect our ability to continue serving the elderly poor as we have for over 175 years without being forced to violate our faith.”
2. In 2017, Becerra brought 15 felony charges against two California citizen journalists who worked to document Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies. Becerra’s tendency to lead crusades in favor of groups who share his political ideology left even the LA Times unsettled.
3. In 2018, Becerra issued a warning to business owners statewide that fines of up to $10,000 are in store for any employer who chooses to cooperate with the federal government’s effort to prosecute illegal immigrants. Becerra expressed that anyone caught “giving up information about their employees … in ways that contradict our new California laws… subject themselves to actions by my office,” citing California’s Immigration Worker Protection Act of 2017.
4. In 2019, AG Becerra asked California courts to cease the prosecution against Chelsea Becker, a meth addict charged with the murder of her stillborn baby by way of overdose. According to the prosecution, California Penal Code Section 187 necessitates a murder charge for “the reckless or indifferent unlawful conduct of a mother that results in the unlawful death of her fetus.” Becerra argued that the law was being “misapplied and misinterpreted.” Despite Becerra’s objection, in December of 2020 the California Supreme Court declined to drop the murder charges.
5. In a 2019 HuffPost interview, Becerra endorsed the decrimalization of illegal immigration, saying, “They are not criminals…. They haven’t committed a crime against someone, and they are not acting violently or in a way that’s harmful to people. And I would argue they are not harming people indirectly either.” According to the latest polling, Americans, by a measure of two to one, believe such a policy of decriminalization is a “bad Idea.”
6. Throughout the Trump Administration, AG Becerra made litigation against the Trump administration a top priority, bringing over 100 lawsuits and costing the taxpayers of California $43 million in the process. Seemingly proud of his wasteful accomplishment, he tweeted in August, “With the NEPA lawsuit, we have sued @realDonaldTrump 100 times."
7. As reported by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Becerra has received over $50,000 from two California teacher unions during his tenure as attorney general. The very same unions who are lobbying AG Becerra and Gov. Newsom to keep California schools closed until all their demands are met. If confirmed as the secretary of Health of Human Services, Becerra would play a pivotal role in deciding if American children can go back to school, a goal seemingly objected to by the nation's teachers unions.
8. Becerra boasts a perfect rating from Planned Parenthood, voting while in the House against both a bill criminalizing partial birth abortions and a bill mandating health care for children born alive despite an abortion attempt.
9. While serving in the House, Becerra participated in what a 2002 congressional report coined “Pardongate” when he lobbied the Clinton administration for clemency on behalf of a man whose father had donated over $15,000 to Becerra’s campaigns. His “advocacy” effort, as described by then White House Council, was successful, and on his last day in office, Clinton pardoned Carlos Vignali, a man sentenced in 1994 to 15 years for drug trafficking.
10. Finally, Becerra believes “health care is a right” and has long supported a single-payer system such as Bernie’s “Medicare for All” plan. If confirmed, he will be in a position to lead health care reform efforts.
Catch all these great hits and more live from the Capitol on Tuesday.