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Assembly sets confirmation hearing after Gov. Brown formally nominates Becerra as state attorney general

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), seen at a gun violence event in June, was formally nominated Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown to be California's next attorney general. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), seen at a gun violence event in June, was formally nominated Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown to be California's next attorney general. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Less than an hour after state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris resigned and took the oath of office for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday officially nominated Rep. Xavier Becerra to fill the vacancy and become California’s top law enforcement officer.

The state Assembly set a Jan.10 date for his first confirmation hearing.

The Assembly and Senate now have 90 days to act on confirmation of Becerra, a Democrat from Los Angeles, as state attorney general.

A letter from the co-chairs of the Assembly Special Committee on the Office of Attorney General, which will consider the confirmation, asks Becerra to submit written comments on five “critical issues confronting California today and over the next two years” remaining in the attorney general’s term.

Becerra was asked to respond to give his positions on immigration, including cooperation with federal immigration authorities and his view of sanctuary cities, civil rights, environmental protection, police accountability and consumer protection. The Congressman was also asked to describe his position on President-elect Donald Trump's proposal for a registry for Muslim immigrants.

“In the next four years, Californians and our laws will encounter substantial challenges from the next President and his administration,” said the letter from Democratic Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles and Mark Stone of Scotts Valley.

“Donald Trump has made multiple statements that directly contradict California law and policy,” the two lawmakers wrote. “Our next Attorney General will have great responsibility for protecting Californians and our values, and defending our laws.”

Becerra has served in Congress since 1992 and was most recently the first Latino member of the Committee on Ways and Means, as well as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Becerra, 58, previously served in the state Assembly from 1990 to 1992.

“Xavier has been an outstanding public servant — in the state Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general,” Brown said when he announced last month that Becerra would be his nominee. “I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”

Harris became the first black woman to represent California in the U.S. Senate with a ceremony shortly after 9 a.m. Pacific time. She submitted her letter of resignation to the governor at the same time.

"I am proud of the work and accomplishments achieved by the Office of the Attorney General over the past six years,” Harris wrote. “As United States Senator, I look forward to continuing to work with you and other state and local leaders on important issues facing California and our nation.”

Harris later named Kathleen “Kate” Alice Kenealy chief deputy attorney general to lead the state Department of Justice as acting attorney general until Becerra is confirmed.

Updated at 11:24 am: This post has been updated to include setting of confirmation hearing.

Updated at 10:28 am: This post has been updated to include naming of acting attorney general.

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