WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra told senators he will push for strong federal leadership to fight COVID-19 if he’s confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services.

“The pandemic has killed 500,000 Americans, many of them alone without their families. Millions more have lost their jobs in healthcare,” he said. “That is not the America my parents would believe possible.”

It may be difficult for Becerra to secure enough Republican support to become the next Health and Human Services secretary since he sued the Trump administration more than 100 times. But California Sen. Alex Padilla said the son of immigrants who grew up in a working-class home is the person for the job.

“These communities are hurting and dying at alarming rates. And they desperately need someone who knows these communities to their core,” said Padilla.

Democrats said Becerra’s work fighting to strengthen women’s reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act have prepared him to lead Health and Human Services. But that’s precisely why some Republican senators are hesitant to support him.

“Not only have you supported the major expansion of the Affordable Care Act, you’ve also been an advocate for more government interference between Americans and their doctors. During your time in Congress, you supported Medicare for all,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

“Will you commit to not using tax-payer money to fund abortions and abortion providers?” asked Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN).

“We will definitely follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources,” responded Becerra.

If confirmed, Becerra would be the first Hispanic to lead Health and Human Services.