Mr. Biden was influenced by Mr. Becera’s personal story, according to a person familiar with his thinking. In particular, the president-elect liked the fact that Mr. Becera served clients with mental health needs shortly after graduating from law school, the person said.
While in Congress, Mr. Becera was a staunch advocate of the Latin community and was deeply involved in efforts to reform the country’s immigration system. He also promoted plans to build a national museum dedicated to exploring the culture and history of Latin Americans. This year the House voted to create such a museum.
Representative Philemon Villa, a Texas Democrat, praised Biden’s choice of Mr. Becera as “historic” and said the California attorney general was the right person to lead the sprawling agency during the worst public health crisis in 100 years.
“Becera will lead an agency that will play a critical role in overseeing massive immunization efforts and helping to manage an enhanced federal response to tackle the worsening Covid-19 crisis,” said Mr. Villa. “It will also help shape the Biden administration’s efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act.”
In the late 1990s, Mr. Becera traveled to Cuba and visited Cuba with its leader, Fidel Castro, much to the ire of the Republican members of the Congress of Hispanic origin. They quit, Saying they were “personally insulted” from the visit.
Mr. Biden’s selection of Mr. Becera to replace the current secretary, Alex M. Azar II, comes at a time when the president-elect is under increasing pressure from the Latino community and the Latino Caucus in Congress to diversify his government. Mr. Becera is the second Latino that Biden has chosen for his cabinet, yet Alejandro N. Mayorkas picked last monthCuban immigrant, homeland security minister.
Gov. Michael Logan Gresham of New Mexico was thought to be in line with the job of Secretary of Health, but she was apparently out of the race. Instead, last week leaked news that Ms Logan Grisham had been offered the position of Home Secretary and turned down.