Padilla on HHS Secretary Confirmation: It’s Time To Let Xavier Becerra Get To Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) spoke on the United States Senate floor in strong support of the confirmation of Xavier Becerra to be Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. Padilla stressed the urgency of filling this position and called out Republicans for playing politics while millions of Americans are struggling in the middle of a global pandemic.Padilla pointed to the different standard Becerra is being held to as opposed to his predecessors that have been confirmed in the past and highlighted the hypocrisy that has resulted in a delay of Becerra’s confirmation.

WATCH: View Padilla’s Floor Remarks Here / Download Padilla’s Floor Remarks Here

Key Excerpts:

  • Our nation is going through one of the toughest health crises in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an incredible toll on our country. Every state has been impacted. Every community has suffered. Especially working-class communities of color, like the neighborhoods Attorney General Becerra and I grew up in.
  • Xavier Becerra’s parents immigrated from Mexico – just like my parents did – with a dream of building a better life for themselves and their family. Just a few days ago, I spoke in this Chamber about my family’s history and journey in this country. A hard-working short-order cook and a housekeeper raised a son who is now serving in the United States Senate.  The same is true for Xavier’s family – the son of construction and clerical workers is on the verge of becoming the most important health official in our nation. That’s the California Dream – that’s the American Dream. 
  • Sadly, Xavier Becerra is being held to a different standard than other nominees this chamber has supported and confirmed over the last four years, including our most recent HHS Secretary. Let me also say this, as some of the first Latinos in our respective positions, both Xavier and I are not unfamiliar with being held to different standards. And it’s a different standard so stark that my colleagues are willing to delay his confirmation through the night. 
  • Yes, in the middle of a global health pandemic, Republicans are holding up the nominee for Health and Human Services. They are holding up the first Latino nominee to head this critical agency – during a pandemic that has disproportionately affected the Latino community. It’s time to let Xavier Becerra get to work.

The full transcript of Padilla’s remarks as prepared for delivery below:

PADILLA: Thank you, Mr./Madam President.

It’s an honor to speak today in support of the nomination of my friend, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Our nation is going through one of the toughest health crises in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an incredible toll on our country.

Every state has been impacted. Every community has suffered. 

Especially working-class communities of color, like the neighborhoods Attorney General Becerra and I grew up in.

These communities are hurting and people are dying at alarming rates, and they desperately need someone who knows these communities at their core.  

Throughout his career, Xavier Becerra has always fought to improve the lives of his constituents.

As the first Latino Attorney General of California, he made it his mission to tackle structural inequalities within our health care system.

Attorney General Becerra was the leading force behind the lawsuit to protect the Affordable Care Act. Yes, he had the audacity to maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions and for those suffering from mental illness. 

Over the past year, he has fought to protect frontline health care workers from further exposure to COVID-19. 

Xavier Becerra’s parents immigrated from Mexico – just like my parents did – with a dream of building a better life for themselves and their family.

Just a few days ago, I spoke in this Chamber about my family’s history and journey in this country.

A hard-working short-order cook and a housekeeper raised a son who is now serving in the United States Senate. 

The same is true for Xavier’s family – the son of construction and clerical workers is on the verge of becoming the most important health official in our nation.

That’s the California Dream – that’s the American Dream. 

Unfortunately, over half a million Americans have had their dream cut short by COVID-19. Over half a million lives lost. And millions more lives have been upended by this pandemic. 

We need to act with urgency to end this crisis. Urgency. But, as I rise today to address this chamber, urgency is severely lacking. 

While millions of Americans struggle, Republicans are dragging things out and playing politics with the confirmation of Xavier Becerra, one of the most qualified nominees for the Department of Health and Human Services this chamber has considered.

They have distorted his record. But let me point out that many of members of this Senate have worked with him for decades here in Congress.

Republicans and Democrats know Xavier Becerra to be a thoughtful leader who is always willing to listen to both sides. 

He built an outstanding reputation in the House, both as a legislator and as a colleague. 

And as Attorney General of California, overseeing the largest Department of Justice in the nation — second only to the U.S. Department of Justice — Xavier showed no fear in working across the aisle. 

Mr. Becerra partnered with Republican Attorneys General to increase access to life saving drugs to treat COVID-19.

And he worked across the aisle to protect drug discounts for health centers. 


Mr./Madam President, I cannot help but point out the obvious. 

In fact, I am compelled to make this clear for the American people:  

The cynical delays and the political games we are seeing are not actually about Mr. Becerra’s qualifications.

He is just as qualified as any of his predecessors.

Sadly, Xavier Becerra is being held to a different standard than other nominees this chamber has supported and confirmed over the last four years, including our most recent HHS Secretary.

Let me also say this, as some of the first Latinos in our respective positions, both Xavier and I are not unfamiliar with being held to different standards.

And it’s a different standard so stark that my colleagues are willing to delay his confirmation through the night. 

Yes, in the middle of a global health pandemic, Republicans are holding up the nominee for Health and Human Services.

They are holding up the first Latino nominee to head this critical agency – during a pandemic that has disproportionately affected the Latino community.

It’s time to let Xavier Becerra get to work.

I urge my colleagues to end the delay on Xavier Becerra’s confirmation for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Thank you, Mr./Madam President. 

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