Gov. Jerry Brown formally entered his nomination of Rep. Xavier Becerra for California attorney general on Tuesday, setting the 90-day clock for the Legislature to act.
Brown’s selection of Becerra, a Los Angeles Democrat and veteran of federal immigration and health care policy debates, came after the fall elevation of Democrat Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate. Harris was sworn in Tuesday, after which Brown submitted his pick of Becerra to the Legislature. Their deadline is April 4. In the unlikely event that either the Assembly or Senate votes to reject him by that date, Brown will have to name someone else. If the houses vote to approve him or do not act, he will take office. Meanwhile, the acting attorney general is Kathleen “Kate” Kenealy, the chief deputy.
“Xavier has been an outstanding public servant – in the state Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general,” said Brown said after naming Becerra as his nominee last month. “I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”
The confirmation process is expected to begin next week. The Assembly announced Tuesday that its special committee for reviewing Becerra’s appointment will meet on Jan. 10.
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The committee, which makes a recommendation to the Assembly on whether to confirm Becerra, is seeking information on his “record and perspective” on five key issues, according to a letter sent to the congressman last week: cooperation with federal immigration authorities; civil rights, such as abortion access and a proposed Muslim registry; California’s extensive environmental protections; police accountability laws, like access to body camera video; and consumer protection.
“In the next four years, Californians and our laws will encounter substantial challenges from the next President and his administration,” committee chairmen Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, and Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, wrote. “Donald Trump has made multiple statements that directly contradict California law and policy. Our next Attorney General will have great responsibility for protecting Californians and our values, and defending our laws.”
Becerra, 58, has borne the label of perpetual rising star for two decades. He leaves Congress as the fourth-highest-ranking House Democrat and the most senior Latino and assumes a position where many expect him to clash with President-elect Donald Trump.
Becerra has declined to say whether he intends to run for the attorney general post in 2018.