California attorney general nominee faces final hurdle

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In their first official action since Donald Trump became president, California lawmakers are poised vote Monday on confirming an attorney general nominee who has vowed to defend the state's liberal policies against the Trump administration and the Republican Congress Xavier Becerra, who is expected to easily clear this last hurdle in California's heavily Democratic Legislature, says he will fight any federal law he believes infringes on the rights of Californians.

Becerra is a Democrat who represents the Los Angeles area in the U.S. House. "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. He would replace Kamala Harris as the state's top law enforcement official after she was elected to the U.S. Senate in November. Becerra currently serves as the highest-ranking Latino in Congress.

Democrats in the California Assembly confirmed Becerra earlier this month. Only one Republican in the chamber, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, voted to support Becerra. Other Republicans said they were not persuaded Becerra would uphold federal law and the Constitution. Some Republicans said they worried Becerra was too concerned with fighting Trump and not focused enough on fighting crime in California.

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.

On the first day of Trump's presidency, the new White House was already at odds with the country's most populous state over climate change policy. On Friday, the day Trump was inaugurated, the White House website said the president 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 the state's target of 40 percent emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, 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.

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