Mr. Biden was impressed with the personal story of Mr. Becerra, such a person familiar with his thinking. The president-elect in particular liked the fact that shortly after graduating from law school, Mr. Becerra was serving clients with mental health problems, the person said.
During his convention, Mr. Becerra was a fierce supporter of the Latino community and was deeply involved in overhauling the nation’s immigration system. He also sponsored plans to build a national museum devoted to researching the culture and history of American Latinos. The house voted to create such a museum this year.
Representative Filemon Vela, Democrat of Texas, praised Mr. Biden’s election for Mr. Becerra, calling it “historic” and saying the California attorney general was the right person to run the sprawling agency during the worst public health crisis in 100 years .
“Becerra will lead an agency that will play a critical role in overseeing massive vaccination efforts and helping to address a reinforced federal response to address the deepening Covid-19 crisis,” Vela said. “He will also help shape the Biden government’s efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act.”
In the late 1990s, Mr. Becerra traveled to Cuba and visited with his guide, Fidel Castro, which enraged Republican members of the Hispanic Caucus of Congress. They stepped backand said they were “personally offended” by the visit.
The election of Mr Biden to replace Mr Becerra to succeed current Secretary Alex M. Azar II comes as the president-elect comes under increasing pressure from the Latino community and the Hispanic caucus of Congress to diversify his cabinet. Mr. Becerra is the second Latino that Mr. Biden has chosen after the selection of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, a Cuban immigrant, as Secretary of Homeland Security for his cabinet.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was believed to have been eligible for the job of Minister of Health, but she appeared to be out of the running. Instead, it was announced last week that Ms. Lujan Grisham had been offered and rejected the position of Home Secretary.