VIDEO: Padilla Introduces HHS Secretary Nominee Becerra, Urges Committee To Support His Nomination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra at the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Senate Committee’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Padilla urged members of the committee to support Becerra’s nomination.

WATCH: Full Video of Padilla’s Remarks Here

Full Transcript of Padilla’s Remarks:

PADILLA: Thank you, Chair Murray, Ranking Member Burr, for inviting me to address the HELP committee today to also introduce my friend, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

It’s indeed an honor to introduce a fellow Californian for this important post.

Our nation is going through one of the toughest times we have faced in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an incredible toll on our lives and on communities across the United States.

As we all know, COVID-19 deaths in the United States just surpassed half a million people.

The devastation has disproportionately impacted working-class communities and communities of color, very similar to the very neighborhoods that Attorney General Becerra and I grew up in.

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

The Los Angeles Times just published an article on Saturday showing the disparity in vaccination rates across Los Angeles County, just for example, where wealthy neighborhoods, like Beverly Hills, are being vaccinated at five times the rate of minority communities, such as South Los Angeles.

That’s why I am honored to introduce Attorney General Becerra today as the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

If confirmed, Attorney General Becerra will be the first Latino Secretary of Health and Human services – an honor I know he will not take lightly because it won’t just be an honor, he views it as a tremendous responsibility. 

Throughout his upbringing and time as a public servant, Xavier Becerra has shown his passion for people and his commitment to improving the lives of those he serves.

As you’ve heard, his parents immigrated from Mexico – just like my parents did – with a dream of building a better life for themselves and their family.

As Senator Feinstein mentioned, Attorney General Becerra was the first in his family to graduate from college earning both his undergraduate and law degree at Stanford University.

While at Stanford, he also met his wife, Dr. Carolina Reyes, a widely respected obstetrician who helps care for women with high-risk pregnancies in underserved communities.

Attorney General Becerra’s first job out of law school was working with individuals with mental health disorders, a health issue that is too often overlooked – especially in communities of color.

He also worked for a time at the California Department of Justice before serving in the California State Assembly. 

He was elected to Congress in 1992, where he quickly gained andmaintained a reputation for being a strong supporter of reproductive health, protections for seniors, mental health parity, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which we refer to as CHIP. 

And yes, Xavier was also instrumental in drafting and passing the Affordable Care Act, which has helped provide access to quality health care for millions of Americans who were previously uninsured. 

But his work has not stopped there.  

As 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 and to maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions and for those suffering from a mental illness. 

Over the past year, Attorney General Becerra fought to protect frontline health care workers from further exposure to COVID-19, and he stood up for homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. 

I know public service is not just a job for Xavier. This is a commitment to honor the sacrifices of his parents, and an opportunity to bring greater equity, greater opportunity, and greater hope for all Americans.

Xavier is a proven leader who is uniquely qualified to take on the challenges of this moment, with a vision of equity and compassion.  

I urge the committee to support his nomination. Thank you.