Our country is in the middle of the worst public health crisis in American history, and despite the approval of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, the Trump administration's failure to effectively distribute the vaccine far and wide has undermined the response to the pandemic, and left North Carolinians vulnerable to the virus.
With nearly 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, including over 7,800 North Carolinians, and millions more out of work, the Biden administration must make up for lost time in tackling the pandemic and rebuilding our nation's economy. Now more than ever we need a strong, experienced leader to serve as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, and Xavier Becerra is the right person for the job.
While the Trump administration has spent the last year refusing to acknowledge the severity of the COVID-19 crisis, and delaying our country's response to the pandemic, President-elect Biden has been working to develop a plan to slow the spread of the virus, and rebuild our economy. Key to that plan is his appointment of a strong, experienced, diverse team, led by HHS Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra, a fierce health care champion whose experience in Congress and state government makes him uniquely qualified to serve as Health and Human Services Secretary.
Throughout his career, Xavier Becerra has been on the frontlines fighting to expand access to affordable care and protect underserved communities. As a member of Congress, Becerra was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act, and a staunch defender of Medicare and Medicaid. In his 24 years in Congress, Becerra worked across the aisle to get things done, prioritizing the health and safety of his community over partisan differences. As HHS Secretary, Becerra will "hit the reset" experts are calling for to revitalize our country's vaccine rollout. Until then, millions will remain unprotected against the virus, and unable to safely return to work.
North Carolinians are suffering, and millions across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly 20 million Americans filed for jobless benefits in mid-December and job growth has slowed. Instead of providing support to those in need, our leaders in Congress spent months blocking meaningful relief for the American people. Unfortunately, we cannot effectively rebuild the economy and get people back to work until the virus is under control, and we need leaders at our federal health department who will confront this crisis head-on. Xavier Becerra is up to this job, and must be swiftly confirmed by the Senate.
We have waited long enough for real leadership, and with the virus spreading rapidly in North Carolina and across the country, we cannot wait any longer. The pandemic demands a strong and knowledgeable HHS secretary who can marshal the people and resources to not only contain the spread of the virus, but ensure a smooth and equitable vaccination distribution program that doesn’t leave communities behind.
Xavier Becerra is the right person at the right time and he deserves the support of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate. To delay his appointment is to prolong our suffering, and put millions of Americans' lives in jeopardy.
David Miner is a former Republican member of the NC General Assembly and founder of The Resources Group.