SACRAMENTO, Calif.—In their first official action since Donald Trump became president, California lawmakers are poised Monday to confirm a Democratic nominee for attorney general who has vowed to defend the state’s liberal policies against the new administration and the Republican Congress.
Xavier Becerra, who is expected to easily clear this last hurdle in the heavily Democratic Legislature, says he will fight any federal law he believes infringes on the rights of Californians. Becerra has represented the Los Angeles area in the U.S. House for more than two decades and is the highest-ranking Latino in Congress.
“Our state has the law, the grit and the guts to fight for hardworking families,” Becerra told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month, later adding, “I think the best defense is a good offense.”
Becerra would be California’s first Latino attorney general, replacing Kamala Harris after she was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.
The state Senate is voting on his confirmation as California’s top law enforcement official after Democrats in the Assembly cleared him earlier this month.
Only one Republican, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, supported Becerra. Other Republicans said they were not persuaded he would uphold federal law and the Constitution. Some said they worried Becerra was too concerned with fighting Trump and not focused enough on fighting crime.
Many of California’s liberal policies face an uncertain future amid promises by Trump and Republican lawmakers to overhaul the nation’s health care, immigration and climate change laws.
The day of Trump’s inauguration, the White House was already at odds with the country’s most populous state over climate change policy. The White House website said Friday that Trump planned to stop former President Barack Obama’s climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
The same day, California regulators plowed ahead with their own climate change goals, releasing a 157-page plan to reach a target of a 40 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has called Becerra “battle-tested” from his time in a polarized Congress and said his experience will serve him well in defending California’s policies.
Becerra worked as a deputy attorney general for three years before he successfully ran for an Assembly seat in 1990.