Ted Cruz engages in an online spat over Biden’s HHS secretary nominee who sued the Trump administration more than 100 times

ted cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during a Senate hearing on November 17, 2020.

  • Ted Cruz opposes the nomination of Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Cruz insists that the role should be filled by a scientist and not an attorney.
  • Kevin M. Kruse called out Cruz for dismissing Becerra’s tenure as a former congressman and current attorney general.
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GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, well-known for his public Twitter spats, engaged in an online battle earlier this week regarding the qualifications of Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cruz has expressed opposition to Becerra, arguing that the HHS nominee should be a doctor as the country remains mired in the coronavirus pandemic.

“President Biden has nominated an attorney – someone who lacks the necessary experience and skills to serve as Secretary of HHS,” Cruz said earlier this month. “Voting to confirm an HHS Secretary with absolutely no medical or scientific experience is simply irresponsible.”

On Fox News earlier this week, Cruz reiterated his sentiments about Becerra.

“If a Republican nominated a trial lawyer to lead the Health and Human Services department in the midst of a global pandemic, they would be laughed out of the room because it would be absurd,” Cruz said.

Princeton University professor and historian Kevin M. Kruse took notice of Cruz’s comments and pushed back against the questioning of Becerra’s qualifications on Twitter.

“He was a US Congressman from 1993 to 2017, and then served as the attorney general of California, but sure, dismiss him as a ‘trial lawyer,'” he wrote.

Cruz responded, asking Kruse if he would hire him to perform an operation without any medical experience and questioning whether Becerra would “sue the virus.”

“I’ve been a lawyer for 25 yrs & a Senator for 8,” Cruz wrote. “Would you hire me to remove your appendix?”

The tweet continued: “Of course not. I’m not remotely qualified to be HHS Secretary-& neither are you, a history professor & pundit. Bacerra [sic] is a left-wing activist. During a pandemic, we need a scientist.”

Kruse replied back, questioning Cruz about Ben Carson, who was controversially tapped to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development by former President Donald Trump despite little relevant housing-related policy experience.

“When you voted to confirm Ben Carson as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, did you think he was going to perform brain surgery on an apartment?,” he asked.

He continued: “I *am* just a history professor! But maybe I can help you out here by informing you that almost none of the HHS/HEW (Health, Education, and Welfare) secretaries in US history have been scientists or doctors. That includes the last one you happily voted to confirm. He was a lawyer.”

Alex Azar, the most recent Senate-confirmed HHS secretary, was an attorney and pharmaceutical executive.

In his capacity as California’s attorney general, Becerra filed more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration.

Despite Cruz’s opposition, along with GOP pushback to the nomination from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Becerra is assured of confirmation if he can retain the support of all 50 Senate Democrats.

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Xavier Becerra, California attorney general, is Biden’s pick to lead health department: NYT

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Then-Vice President Joe Biden, center, and then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., arrive in the Capitol Visitor Center for a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, December 06, 2016.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

Becerra, 62, previously represented Los Angeles as a member of Congress, where he served in the Democratic leadership. He has served as California attorney general since 2017, succeeding Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

If confirmed, the Times noted, Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the health department.

As head of the health department, Becerra will be charging with helping to tackle a surging pandemic and administration of hundreds of millions of vaccine. Over the past week, hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have increased 11.6%, according to The Covid Tracking Project; deaths have risen 46.5% compared to the week before.

Becerra will also have to undo potential roadblocks set by the outgoing Trump administration. On Friday, he led a coalition of state attorneys general in challenging a “misguided and dangerous attempt at deregulation” within HHS that “would hamstring the incoming Biden administration in the midst of a global pandemic.”

In particular, the Trump administration is seeking to automatically “sunset” any HHS regulation that is not reviewed within a set period of time. Critics maintain that will redirect limited resources toward bureaucratic processes just to preserve existing rules, jeopardizing funding streams for state governments at a time when HHS will need “to enact new regulations aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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