Becerra Considering U.S. Trade Rep. Post

Posted December 2, 2008 at 7:19pm

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) is mulling an offer to become the U.S. trade representative in President-elect Barack Obama’s White House, several Democratic sources confirmed Tuesday evening. Accepting the post – a decision sources said Becerra has not yet made – would mean quitting a senior position on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and giving up the vice chairmanship of the Caucus, the House Democrats’ fifth-ranking leadership slot that he just secured. It would prompt a scramble to replace him at the leadership table. Several rising stars backed away from a run for the Caucus vice chairmanship after Becerra jumped into the race last month, leaving only Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), whom he beat decisively. For one, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who resisted heavy lobbying by moderates to make the race, would likely be a candidate this time around. It is not yet clear whether others thought to be eyeing the race in the days following the Nov. 4 elections, including Florida Reps. Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, would also contest it. Becerra spokeswoman Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli said her boss is “looking forward to serving in his newly elected post as House Democratic vice chair and is focusing his energy and efforts in the work that lies ahead for him in the 111th Congress.” While becoming Obama’s trade representative would give Becerra a cabinet-level position in the new administration, one Democratic strategist didn’t see the logic in the move. “I feel he should stay in the House,” the strategist said. “He has 16 years of seniority and is still a relatively young man just elected to leadership. He could be Majority Leader or chairman of the Ways and Means Committee someday.”