A national Catholic advocacy organization is appealing to Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s faith in calling for him to reject California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary.
“An extreme political activist like Mr. Becerra has no place leading the Department of Health and Human Services,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch wrote in a Wednesday letter to Manchin.
“As a fellow Catholic,” Burch wrote, “we ask you to consider the concerns outlined above, and to oppose his confirmation.”
Conservative groups have increasingly focused their efforts on stopping Becerra’s confirmation. The Heritage Foundation’s action arm announced new ad campaigns in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s home state of Arizona in hopes that they can sway these two more moderate Democrats against Becerra.
Pro-life advocates and lawmakers have called on the Senate to reject Becerra as the president’s choice for HHS secretary, warning that he is “an enemy to every pro-life policy and law.” Republican senators pressed Becerra on his abortion record during last week’s confirmation hearings, but the HHS nominee avoided discussing his abortion stances by promising to follow the law.
“Much of the criticism of Mr. Becerra thus far has centered on his lack of experience in the healthcare field, whether in health insurance, the pharmaceutical industry, or even as a medical professional,” Burch wrote to Manchin.
“But more concerning to us is the fact that Mr. Becerra has built a long track record as a left-wing ideologue, willing to repeatedly thwart foundational constitutional protections established in law.”
CatholicVote is one of the largest Catholic advocacy organizations in the nation, boasting over 300,000 members. The organization recently launched a petition against Becerra that has gained over 40,000 signatures.
Republican senators particularly highlighted Becerra’s actions towards the Little Sisters of the Poor during last week’s confirmation hearings. The California attorney general filed a 2017 lawsuit against the Trump administration that sought to reimpose an Obama-era mandate forcing insurance providers to provide contraceptives. The Little Sisters of the Poor had fought the mandate, resulting in a lawsuit by the state of California.
The lawsuit is currently under consideration by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Becerra is listed as counsel in the 9th circuit ruling.
The mandate required that the nuns include cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives, and some abortion drugs in employer health plans, the Catholic News Agency reported. The nuns had said that the mandate violated their religious beliefs, since the Catholic Church teaches that abortion and contraception are gravely immoral.
Burch also highlighted that Becerra “went out of his way” to challenge a compromise that the federal government made with the Little Sisters of the Poor, “using the resources of the State of California to sue the federal government to try to force them to reimpose the mandate.”
“The Little Sisters saga is far from the only time Mr. Becerra has used his position to attack religious groups and their rights,” Burch wrote. “As Attorney General of California, Mr. Becerra also fought with pregnancy resource centers – which provide medical, financial, and emotional assistance to pregnant mothers – seeking to force them to advertise state-funded abortions to mothers.”
Manchin did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment for this story.