Rep. Xavier Becerra testifies Tuesday at a confirmation hearing for state attorney general

An Assembly panel on Tuesday recommended the confirmation of Rep. Xavier Becerra as state attorney general after the nominee pledged to aggressively defend state policies on immigration and healthcare against potential negative actions by President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration.

The Los Angeles Democrat was questioned for more than an hour by members of the Assembly Special Committee on the Office of the Attorney General before the panel voted 6 to 3 to support the nomination by Gov. Jerry Brown. All Republicans voted in opposition.

The nomination still must be acted on by the full Assembly, which is scheduled to vote Friday, as well as the Senate.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), a co-chairman of the panel, told Becerra he expects a “long, legal war” with the federal government.

“The reason? Trump and his incoming administration are dead-set on building up legal barriers and walls that we have torn down in recent years,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Gov. Jerry Brown introduced Becerra at the two-hour hearing, warning that “there are big battles ahead,” and calling his nominee an “outstanding candidate that can certainly champion the causes we believe in.”

Becerra told the panel that as the son of hard-working immigrants, he is committed to fighting any federal policy that takes away the rights of Californians who are playing by the rules.

“As California’s chief law enforcement officer and legal advocate, I am going to be ready to deploy those values and life lessons to advance and defend the rights — big and small — of all Californians,” Becerra told the panel. “Everyone who plays by California’s rules deserves to know, ‘We’ve got your back.’”

The 12-term congressman said he supports the state’s policies protecting the environment and civil rights. He said he opposes racial profiling by the police and the stop-and-frisk policies of other cities.

With Trump proposing mass deportations and registration of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, Becerra said, “the headwinds from outside California could threaten the basic rights of so many families like the one I grew up in.”

Republican members called on Becerra to make fighting crime his top priority and said they had concerns about the attorney general failing to defend the rights of gun owners.

Some 50 people testified, with support coming from groups such as the Sierra Club, Los Angeles Police Protective League, Equality California and several labor unions. Only two people objected to the nomination, including an American Independent Party representative who questioned whether Becerra has enough years serving as an attorney to be qualified.

Craig DeLuz of the Firearms Policy Coalition, said his group wants a state attorney general who can protect the constitutional rights of gun owners.

“Unfortunately, based on the record, we simply do not believe that this nominee is doing that,” DeLuz told the panel.

The National Rifle Assn. opposed Becerra in a letter.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

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