Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden mispronounced the name of his nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday in the latest flub from the gaffe-prone politician.
Biden, former vice president of the United States, also mixed up the name of the department, referring to it as the department of “health and education services.” Both gaffes, seconds apart, came during Biden’s official announcement that he would nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the HHS.
Joe Biden calls the Department of Health and Human Services "Health and Education Services."
He also mispronounces the name of his nominee Xavier Becerra. pic.twitter.com/cB2uBSBww6
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) December 8, 2020
Reports of Biden’s choice to lead HHS surfaced on Sunday. Becerra came as a surprise to some political observers as his name had only come into conversations around the cabinet-level position in recent days. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had pushed Biden to name New Mexico’s Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, to the spot.
A 2002 House report found that Becerra, who has served as California’s attorney general since 2017, had pushed for the sentence of a convicted drug trafficker and son of a donor to his campaigns to be commuted. As The Daily Wire reports:
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been selected by former Vice President Joe Biden to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services in a prospective Biden administration, contacted not only then-U.S. attorney Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, about commuting the sentence of a convicted drug trafficker whose father had donated thousands of dollars to Becerra’s campaigns, but also the Bill Clinton White House. The drug trafficker, Carlos Vignali, ended up receiving a commutation from Clinton in January 2001.
Horacio Vignali, whose son Carlos was in prison, sought help from politicians including then-Congressman Becerra to have his son released. A 2002 House report stated, “Congressman Becerra conceded that the Vignalis were not members of his constituency but that Horacio had been a friend and contributor of his for five years,” delineating donations of roughly “$11,000 to his political action committee between 1998 and 2001, $2,475 to his congressional campaigns, and $3,500 toward his subsequent failed bid for Los Angeles mayor,” as Fox News reported.
Biden’s choice to lead HHS has met resistance from medical experts over Becerra’s lack of experience in health policy or any related field.
“Becerra’s appointment has caused outrage among some medical experts, with many noting that despite his experience in Washington, Becerra has never held a top health policy leadership position,” The Daily Wire reported. “In an open letter to the incoming administration, five major medical associations criticized the choice, urging Biden instead to ‘appoint qualified physicians to serve in key positions critical to advancing the health of our nation.’”
Becerra also holds progressive positions on major issues such as abortion and healthcare. The California AG is a supporter of a single-payer, government-run healthcare system similar to one proposed by self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).
“In 2003, [Becerra] voted against a bill sponsored by former Senator Rick Santorum(R-PA) which sought to ban partial-birth abortion except in cases where the mother’s life was at risk,” The Daily Wire reported. “More recently, he headed a coalition in April to fight the Mississippi legislature after they passed a bill prohibiting abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. Several of his anti-Trump suits also sought to reverse religious protections to employers and doctors in providing birth control and abortion.”