Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden is expected to pick Xavier Becerra as his nominee to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services, once again turning to a California attorney general to fill out his administration.
If confirmed, Mr. Becerra would take over a department tasked with helping lead the federal response to the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Becerra, a former Democratic congressman, would be the second Latino to be named to a major Cabinet-level position in the incoming Biden administration.
Hispanic advocacy groups have been pushing for more representation among Mr. Biden’s top-level posts.
Mr. Becerra had also been mentioned as a possible U.S. attorney general nominee for Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden has already named Alejandro Mayorkas, a veteran of the Obama administration, as his pick to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
A spokesman for the Biden transition declined to comment.
The New York Times first reported the news on Sunday.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, welcomed the news and said the CHC is encouraging Mr. Biden to appoint five Latinos to Cabinet-level posts.
Mr. Castro, Texas Democrat, said Mr. Becerra “has lived the American Dream” and called him “a champion for working families.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who had been mentioned as a potential pick to lead HHS under Mr. Biden, told the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday that she has the best job in the world and that she looks forward to working with the Biden administration on a number of pressing issues.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who had also been mentioned as a potential contender, said last week she was not going to be Mr. Biden’s pick to lead HHS.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List called a Becerra pick “unacceptable” and proof that Mr. Biden “is an extremist on abortion,” citing Mr. Becerra’s votes for partial-birth abortion and his actions as California attorney general.
“Continued persecution (started by predecessor Kamala Harris) of citizen journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s role in baby parts trafficking [and] tried to force pro-life pregnancy centers to refer for abortion,” the group wrote on a Twitter thread.
“We call on Republican senators to stand firm & stop this unacceptable nomination from going forward,” SBA List concluded.
Mr. Biden selected another former California attorney general, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, to be his vice-presidential running mate.