High-ranking Democrats are quickly losing patience with Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s controversial pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, over his handling of the crisis on the border, according to a report.
Becerra, the former California attorney general, was confirmed as the head of HHS on March 18. Since that time, officials close to the Biden administration are reportedly questioning his ability to effectively lead the agency.
Becerra had no previous experience with regard to matters of public health before his nomination, which led to some hesitancy when he was tapped to run the cabinet-level department which is tasked with overseeing the direction of programs relating to public safety and health.
The partisan Democrat has apparently proven detractors to his nomination correct throughout the last month.
Politico, citing eight sources inside the White House or close to the Biden administration, reported the lifelong Democrat is losing the confidence of those who work with him, particularly over his handling of the crisis at the border.
“The dissatisfaction with Becerra centers on complaints he’s been slow to take charge of the response since his confirmation on March 18, according to eight current and former government officials and others familiar with the situation,” Politico reported.
The outlet noted that the White House has “scrambled to find new shelters and speed the vetting of adults to care for the children as thousands remain in packed detention facilities along the border.”
There are reportedly concerns from high-ranking administration officials that Becerra might not be able to handle an expected influx of even more child migrants in the coming months.
Doubt expressed by those who spoke to Politico centered on the fact that months into the border crisis, HHS doesn’t have a clear plan with regard to finding permanent homes for unaccompanied migrant minors.
The White House has made it clear those minors will not be deported back to their home countries.
“[Becerra] did not fully appreciate the issue when he first came in,” a senior Biden administration official was quoted by Politico as saying.
“It’s been a steep learning curve for him.”
Politico reported the White House is “dismayed” at the slow progress being made to process minor migrants. There are an estimated 20,000 such children awaiting processing who have been cramped into detention facilities along the border as more come across from Mexico and Central America daily.
The spokesman for HHS, Mark Weber, confided to Politico that there has been some controversy over the humanitarian crisis at the border — and Becerra’s reported dysfunctional handling of it — but said criticism of the former California AG is unfounded.
“Suggesting [Becerra] doesn’t have a grasp on the issue … that is not apparent from the inside,” he stated. “You don’t get to be nominated to be HHS secretary unless you know what’s going on.”
Weber also told Politico that Becerra is constantly in the loop with HHS officials with regard to alleviating the strain on the system placed by the influx of migrant crossings since Biden took office.
But a person close to the inner workings of the relationship between HHS, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House told Politico that there is a lack of patience for Becerra’s mishandling of the crisis on the border.
“We are frustrated with the speed with which HHS is reacting to the flow of unaccompanied children,” the source said. “There’s enough blame to go around, but we hope HHS would be out front on this.”
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