President-elect Joe Biden’s health team praised


Updated: March 7, 2021

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced key members of his health team, including Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General; Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to the President on COVID-19, who will also continue in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Jeff Zients, Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President. In addition, former White House and Pentagon senior advisor Natalie Quillian will serve as Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response.

Xavier Becerra
Xavier Becerra

Lawmakers, medical and health experts, and key leaders around the country praised them as historic choices ready to lead on day one.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci
“Dr. Anthony Fauci praises picks for @JoeBiden’s health team: ‘I worked with all of them before. They’re excellent choices. I mean, all of them. … I’ve had considerable interactions with all of these individuals, and they’re outstanding.’ (1/2) Fauci says HHS pick @AGBecerra has ‘been in the Congress for a considerable period of time’ and is a ‘very experienced person.’ CDC pick @RWalensky ‘has been a colleague of mine.’ And as for Surgeon General pick @vivek_murthy, ‘I’ve been working with [him] for years.’ (2/2)” [Tweet thread, 12/7/20]

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

Janet Murguía, UnidosUS President and CEO “Diversity of entire public health team shows President-elect Biden is taking the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color seriously…Xavier Becerra has excelled as a member of the U.S. Congress, as California attorney general, and he will bring the same level of knowledge, talent, energy, commitment and compassion to his new role as Secretary of Health and Human Services during the greatest public health crisis in our time.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Sylvia Burwell, Former HHS Secretary “As a former HHS Secretary, I’m excited by the choice of @AGBecerra to lead the department at this critical time. I had the opportunity to work with Xavier when he was in the Congressional leadership. His understanding of key relationships on Capitol Hill & focus on high quality execution will be invaluable as the @JoeBiden administration addresses the #COVID19 pandemic. Xavier knows the “kitchen table” issues that are at the heart of HHS & his leadership will make a difference in the lives of Americans.” [Tweet thread, 12/6/20]

Dr. Vivek Murthy
Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States.

Kathleen Sebelius, Former HHS SecretaryPolitico: Kathleen Sebelius, who ran the Department of Health and Human Services at the time, praised Zients as the “quarterback” of the last-ditch, high stakes, eight-week effort that saved Obamacare’s enrollment portal … Sebelius, who has been advising Biden’s campaign and transition on health policy, said Zients’ past work in business and government prepared him to bring people together in a way that was “unique in times of high crisis” and his background outside the medical world was an asset rather than a liability. [12/3/20]

Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Environmental Portrait Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Senator Gary Peters, Ranking Democrat for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee“The team announced by President-elect Biden today is tested and demonstrates a wide array of expertise to address this pandemic. These key personnel have demonstrated the battle-tested experience necessary to help get us through these difficult times. I look forward to hearing more about their plans in the coming weeks as we begin the confirmation process.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Democrat for Senate Health, Education. Labor, and Pensions Committee“As I’ve said all too often the last four years, we need an HHS Secretary who will fight for people’s health care rather than attacking it. @XavierBecerra has defended the ACA in court and can be counted on to help @JoeBiden expand health care to millions more Americans.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Natalie Quillian
Natalie Quillian

Senator Chris Murphy, Member of the Senate Health, Education. Labor, and Pensions Committee“This is a solid team. I worked closely on ACA passage with Xavier in the House. He’s a pro – principled, but good at building consensus. Vivek is a no brainer for Surgeon General. And how fantastic to have Dr. Fauci back at the center of pandemic response. A Christmas miracle.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Senator Ron Wyden, Ranking Democrat for Senate Finance Committee“I look forward to Attorney General Becerra’s hearing in the Finance Committee as soon as possible next year so he is on the job quickly. Xavier Becerra is an excellent choice to lead HHS at a time when his experience and commitment to Americans’ health and well-being is needed most. He’s been a staunch defender of affordable health care and pre-existing condition protections in the face of Donald Trump’s attacks.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Senator Debbie Stabenow“Xavier Becerra has spent his career fighting to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. He and I partnered together as we worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, and as Attorney General, he’s led the defense of the law in the Supreme Court. He will be ready to lead our nation out of the COVID-19 crisis on Day One.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Senator Mazie Hirono“My friend @XavierBecerra fought for health care as a right not a privilege during our 6 years together in the House and continued that fight as California AG. To start, as HHS Secretary, his strong leadership will be instrumental in getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]


Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19
Congressional Hispanic Caucus “In this moment of crisis with COVID-19 devastating Latino communities, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is proud that California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a dedicated public servant, will be nominated by President-Elect Biden to lead to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As Attorney General, Becerra led the charge to defend the Affordable Care Act, lower prescription drug costs, and protect immigrant families.” [Press Release, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, 12/6/20]

Rep. Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means“Xavier Becerra is a strong pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services as our nation works to defeat and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I witnessed Attorney General Becerra’s consistent commitment to improving Americans’ access to quality health care when he served on the Ways and Means Committee, particularly through the process of crafting and passing the Affordable Care Act. Since leaving Congress, he’s done a terrific job leading the defense of that very law and the vital protections it affords millions of people. [Press Release, 12/7/20]

Representative and Senator-Elect Ben Ray Luján“.@AGBecerra is a compassionate and focused leader. He understands how to bring people together to ensure that @HHSGov is working to get Americans the help they need. I look forward to working with him.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Rep. Ruben Gallego“Congrats to my friend @AGBecerra on your nomination to lead @HHSGov. Your proven leadership will serve our nation well as we battle a historic health crisis, fight health disparities, and work to make sure every American has access to affordable healthcare.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Mary Kay Henry, SEIU President“.@SEIU members have been fortunate to work with  @XavierBecerra over the years to strengthen our home care workforce, defend Medicaid and protect immigrant families. He is an outstanding addition to the already-strong team  @JoeBiden is building.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Representative Donna Shalala, Former HHS Secretary“Welcome to the club my friend. I’m thrilled for you and our country.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

American Hospital Association“America’s hospitals and health systems applaud the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As California Attorney General, he has led the effort to protect the Affordable Care Act and its important protections and coverage for patients. We have also worked with him as a longtime former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, including as a member of the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee. He has been a champion for affordable health access and coverage, which the AHA has supported, and he has consistently made people across America and their health a priority.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

“Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith is the right choice to chair the COVID-19 Equity Task Force. As a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Nunez-Smith has also been instrumental in focusing attention on the persistent inequities in our health care system…” [Statement, 12/7/20]

“Jeff Zients has made a career out of successfully managing major crises and complex initiatives, including leading the effort to improve the 2013 tech surge. His leadership and vast management expertise will be crucial in his new role as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President as we work together to get the pandemic under control.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino President and CEO“All you need to know about  @JoeBiden ’s selection of  @AGBecerra to @HHSGov. A champion of the #ACA, @XavierBecerra will center health and care around equity and justice. COVID has ravaged Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans and Asians. Equitable attention to care is paramount.  👇🏽 [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Chip Kahn, Federation of American Hospitals“The nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is a historic choice at a historic time. He is a superb pick to lead the agency at the center of the fight against COVID-19. As the virus continues to wreak havoc from coast to coast, he will step in with the kind of leadership that on day one will immediately impact the pandemic…” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Alphonso David, President of Human Rights Campaign“.@XavierBecerra has been an ally to the LGBTQ community throughout his public life. He is a great pick for HHS Secretary and we look forward to watching him protect the health care of all people in this country.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Protect Our Care “President-elect Biden has selected a true health care champion in Attorney General Xavier Becerra. As a 12-term member of Congress, he was a leader in the fight to pass the Affordable Care Act, and as California’s AG, he is leading the states that are challenging the disastrous Trump-Republican lawsuit to terminate the law,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Protect Our Care has seen first hand Attorney General Becerra’s leadership defending the ACA in court to make sure Americans can get the care they need. He is a passionate and effective fighter for quality, affordable health care and is an ideal pick to lead HHS.”  [Statement, 12/6/20]

Anthony Wright, Health Access CA “Many may not realize how much health policy experience @AGBecerra has. He was very active in the #ACA’s passage as part of House leadership & obviously took a lead defending the law in court. But as AG he’s been active in on key health issues, from such prices to consolidation. Consumer advocates including @HealthAccess were pleased to work with him on putting conditions on hospital mergers, and on cracking down on “pay for delay” practices by prescription drug companies. He also won a major settlement with Sutter Health over anti-competitive practices. [Tweet thread, 12/6/20]

Coronavirus War Room “Xavier Becerra’s nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services meets the urgency of the moment and he will join a long line of well-respected public health experts in the incoming Biden administration who will work tirelessly to defeat this deadly disease.” [Statement, 12/6/20]

Kaiser Family Foundation“KFF congratulates our Attorney General Xavier Becerra on the news of his appointment. We are proud to have the AG from our home state who has been  such a leader on health care take the helm at HHS and we look forward to a productive working relationship.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Planned Parenthood Federation of America“Together this team of leaders can build a healthier, more equitable future; advance sexual and reproductive health care and rights in the U.S. and globally; and provide an effective,  science-based COVID-19 response plan. Biden’s choices are also in line with the Biden-Harris team’s decision to nominate for positions Latino, Black, and other leaders of color who represent the multicultural population of the country.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL“Huge! @XavierBecerra at HHS will recenter science and facts in guiding public policy. He’s compassionate, committed to reproductive freedom and to health care as a human right. Trump’s HHS was the home of some of the Administration’s worst horrors. A new era has begun indeed.” [Twitter, 12/6/20]

Latino Victory
“At a time when Latinos are disproportionately affected by the attacks on the Affordable Care Act and the coronavirus pandemic, the selection of @XavierBecerra to be the first Latino to lead HHS is a historic and welcomed decision.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Brady | United Against Gun Violence“We’re excited to congratulate gun safety champion @XavierBecerra for his nomination to lead @HHSGov. Time and time again, @AGBecerra has ensured California’s role as a national model for common-sense gun laws. He will protect our communities.” [Twitter, 12/7/20]

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action“Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Dr. Vivek Murthy are both proven gun sense champions who will help lead the Biden administration’s effort to treat gun violence like the public health emergency it is,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “America is facing down two intertwined crises right now — Covid and gun violence — and Attorney General Becerra and Dr. Murthy understand that we need to tackle both at the same time.”

 “Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been on the front lines of the fight for gun safety for decades, and he’s got several NRA F-ratings to prove it,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “And Dr. Vivek Murthy was one of the first government officials to correctly identify gun violence what it is: a public health issue. Our movement is lucky to have these gun sense champions joining the administration, and the Senate should vote to confirm them both.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers “Congratulations to @XavierBacerra! It’s a pivotal moment for our country and the fight against #COVID19. I know that Bacerra is up to the task.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine at George Washington University and Former Baltimore City Health Commissioner“Mr. Becerra has been in government for a long time. He was a congressman for quite a while now, attorney general in California. So I think he has the experience to manage all of these different pieces. It would seem that maybe having a position to head HHS would make sense, but I think what we really need now is competence in people who can bring together all of these disparate elements and I think he’s a very good pick.” [New Day, CNN, 12/7/20]

Emily Stewart, Community Catalyst“In Attorney General Becerra, President-Elect Biden has chosen a champion of people’s health and well-being to serve as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. As a member of Congress, Attorney General Becerra fought tirelessly to protect and expand access to quality, affordable health care…As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Attorney General Becerra would bring a deep commitment to health equity and racial justice, which is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vast inequities deeply embedded in our health care system. Becerra is a proven leader who will take aggressive action to mitigate the harm of the pandemic and work to ensure our health system serves all people.” [Statement, 12/7/20]

Ingrid Katz, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School“Couldn’t be happier. @vivek_murthy will be an inspired and inspiring leader. We are all behind you, my friend!” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

David Shulkin, Former VA Secretary“President-Elect @JoeBiden has made excellent choices  for his #healthcare team: @RWalensky as @CDCgov Director and Surgeon General @vivek_murthy. @Transition46” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum“APIAHF has supported  @vivek_murthy as Surgeon General in the past and we are thrilled that he is nominated to return to this role! Dr. Murthy would continue to lead our country’s public health and advance issues that deeply impact our AA and NHPI community.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Michael Mina, Immunologist, Physician, and Epidemiologist at Harvard “We are going to be in good hands!  Science, Reason, Care embody one of our nations leading ID physicians – now becoming CDC Director. Congratulations @RWalensky! If you know Rochelle, you know how much better 2021 will be for the US #COVID19 response.” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Ashish K. Jha, Dean, Brown School of Public Health“Running  @CDCgov complicated, especially in a crisis. You need to 1. Communicate with the American people 2. Run a sprawling organization 3. Understand, effectively use tools of public health. Lots of people can do one of these. No one I know can do all 3 as well as  @RWalensky” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Andy Slavitt, Former Acting CMS Administrator“NEW: As HHS,  @AGBecerra  who will become Secretary, is probably the singular top champion of the ACA.  As opposed to the current guy, who, uh, isn’t. Good luck to those who try to take pre-existing condition protections from people again under his watch.” [Tweet thread, 12/6/20]

“Marcella Nunez-Smith will take a lead role to address health disparities. By race, by geography, by income level, by sexual orientation.The fact that this role has been created is huge. I expect that voice to be at the table for every big decision.” [Tweet, 12/4/20

Dr. Julia Marcus“This news has sent me into a sort of public health euphoria. It gives me such hope to know that someone as brilliant, kind, and fearless as  @RWalensky  will lead the restoration of our preeminent public health agency. Welcome back, @CDCgov!” [Tweet, 12/6/20]

Dr. Vin Gupta “Congratulations Dr Walensky @RWalensky. Thrilled by your selection. This is the type of health appointment  that gives us all confidence that frontline clinicians with clear covid expertise through lived experience will be steering us ahead.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Community Justice Action Fund
“@DrNunezSmith will be an essential voice for ensuring that communities disproportionately impacted by #COVID19 and other health threats have equal and enduring access to the care they need.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Former Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health“President-elect @JoeBiden makes a fantastic choice for the nation’s #COVID19 Equity Task Force Chair in @DrNunezSmith– a task force that should have existed since the outset of this pandemic.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Young Invincibles“Once confirmed, Secretary Becerra will fight for young people, prioritizing patients over private entities, and provide the leadership needed to defeat a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Upon confirmation, AG Becerra will make history as the first Latino HHS Secretary in the nation’s history.” [Statement, 12/7/20]
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  1. He is not the president elect. The Electoral College has not met yet and President Trump has enough dirt on him now colluding with China he can be waterboarded at Gitmo. Stay tuned.


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