'Unfit' Xavier Becerra Becomes Latest Biden Cabinet Nominee to Face GOP Pushback

President Joe Biden has seated about half of his Cabinet in his first month in office with little resistance, but his health secretary pick has become the latest to get in the GOP crosshairs.

Xavier Becerra has been attorney general of California since 2017. He previously was a Democratic member of the U.S. House and held high Democratic political posts in that role.

Several Republicans have now signed onto a scathing letter opposing his nomination and calling on Biden to outright withdraw the proposed appointment, claiming Becerra "would sow further division" in the country.

It's the harshest pushback that Biden has faced in his appointments.

If appointed, Becerra would be the first Latino head of Health and Human Services. He previously was speculated as a potential candidate to replace now Vice President Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate.

But the Republicans who signed onto the letter, including U.S. Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and several other senators (as well as GOP House members, who do not get a vote on presidential appointments), claim he has "contempt for anyone who doesn't agree with his radical leftist agenda."

"Mr. Becerra's extremism and contempt for those who take a different view contradict [Biden's] calls for unity," they wrote, claiming he's "unfit for any position of public trust."

On Monday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated that he hasn't decided on Becerra.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the Biden administration will "take nothing for granted" when it comes to appointments.

"Part of our effort is not just reaching out to Republicans—which we certainly are doing, and all of our nominees do as well—but also ensuring that Democrats who have questions—any concerns—have their questions answered too," she said. "We've seen a number of our nominees move forward over the past couple of weeks, pretty quickly, with large bipartisan votes, and we certainly welcome that."

Psaki defended Beccera's credentials during Monday's press briefing, saying he "brings decades of health-care policy experience to the table" and noting his role in passing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare."

"As attorney general of California, he fought alongside his Republican counterparts to expand access to COVID treatments," she added.

Though most of the confirmations have moved through on bipartisan votes, Biden's Cabinet is less filled than his recent predecessors. Psaki, on Monday, acknowledged that the confirmation process "previously worked at a more rapid pace" but attributed the lag to delays from Republicans behind the scenes.

Former President Donald Trump refused to concede that he lost the election to Biden, only giving up multiple fruitless challenges over election results after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to be barricaded in safe areas. Many of the rioters have blamed Trump for their actions, arguing that they were following his indirect orders.

Psaki still gave credit to the now Democrat-controlled Senate for processing confirmations.

"We want to thank the Senate for the steps they have taken over the last few weeks to support and confirm, often with large bipartisan votes, many of our nominees," Psaki said.

Two other Biden appointees have faced pushback that has gone public.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell voted against Biden's nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. The Senate still managed to confirm him in a 56-43 vote, with Republican Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dan Sullivan of Alaska voting with Democrats.

Neera Tanden, Biden's pick to lead the Office of Managment and Budget, is also facing a tough confirmation process, as Manchin has said he won't support her.

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President Joe Biden speaks during an announcement related to small businesses at the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building February 22, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty