Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Congressional Hispanics want Lujan Grisham at HHS

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham totes a suitcase as she arrives on Capitol Hill.
Michelle Lujan Grisham arriving on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Hispanic lawmakers are openly lobbying to have New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham be named Health and Human Services secretary, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: These members are now following the example some Black lawmakers have used for weeks: trying to convince Joe Biden his political interests will be served by rewarding certain demographic groups with Cabinet picks.

The big picture: Biden is weighing Lujan Grisham, who he considered as his vice presidential running mate, along with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo for the critical post.

  • The next HHS secretary will not only have to tackle the coronavirus crisis but reconfigure the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration has attempted to dismantle.

The case: In their letter to Biden, 32 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus say nominating Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security was a "good start" — but they believe the country deserves more.

  • "Latinos constitute 18 percent of the U.S. population and the diversity of the Latino population in itself is incredibly varied, with Mexican-Americans making up 62.3 percent of the total Latino population," the letter says.   
  • "We write to restate our strong support for the first Democratic Hispanic woman elected state governor in U.S. history."
  • Lujan Grisham was a chairperson of the caucus while serving in the House from 2013 to 2019. While the letter is not a CHC document, the signers are members of the group.

Between the lines: Mayorkas is of Cuban extraction, and most of the letter signers, as well as Lujan Grisham, are of Mexican American descent. Cuban communities supported Trump, especially in south Florida, while other Hispanic demographics helped Biden win crucial states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania.

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