On Tuesday, Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth dropped their objections to vote against any white, ‘non-minority’ nominees put forth by the Biden administration for cabinet positions.
The two had previously threatened to vote against “non-diversity” nominees for Biden’s cabinet.
According to The Hill, this shift came about after “the White House announced the appointment of a senior-level Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) liaison.”
I welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice.
I had a productive conversation with the White House today to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President’s cabinet. https://t.co/yq2MAUXBl5
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) March 24, 2021
Hirono And Duckworth Threatened To Vote Against White Nominees
Prior to the Biden administration offering to appoint a senior liaison to the Asian community, Hirono and Duckworth had both warned they might “hold out votes to confirm any non-diversity Cabinet nominees.”
Earlier Tuesday, Duckworth said that she would vote “no” to confirm Biden’s pick for Pentagon top policy chief, Colin Kahl, until Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were chosen as “nominees to vacant positions.”
Duckworth stated, “I will vote for racial minorities and LGBTQ, but anybody else I’m not voting for.”
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While unclear, Duckworth would presumably be fine with a white nominee if they were transgender or homosexual, but not cisgender or straight.
Duckworth had pressed White House staff about Asian representation.
When the reply came that the administration said, “We’re very proud of Vice President Harris,” implying that Harris was representative of the Asian community, the Democratic senator said she found it “insulting.”
"To be told that you have Kamala Harris, we are proud of her, you don't need anybody else is insulting…That's not something you would say to the Black caucus: That you have Kamala, we're not going to be put any African Americans in the Cabinet, why would you say that to AAPIs?"
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2021
Democrat Senators Threatened To Vote Based On Race
Sen. Hirono agreed with Duckworth regarding Biden’s “non-diverse nominees.”
Hirono said, “We would like to have a commitment from the White House that there be more diversity representation in the Cabinet and in senior White House positions and until that happens I will be joining her in voting on non-diversity nominees.”
Duckworth added that Asian lawmakers were told that Asians would be appointed specifically to head both the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and White House budget director.
Reported CNN’s Manu Raj on Twitter, “But after Neera Tanden’s nomination collapsed, she said it appears the White House is going in a different direction.”
Duckworth says Asian-American lawmakers were told the USTR and White House budget director would be Asian-American. But after Neera Tanden's nomination collapsed, she said it appears the White House is going in a different direction.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2021
Neera Tanden, who is of Indian descent, withdrew her nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget earlier this month.
Biden said he would find a position in his administration for her.
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