The White House reversed course Tuesday night, offering one appointment of Asian descent to a liaison position, satisfying Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) concerns, who lashed out at the administration Tuesday afternoon for a lack of Asian “representation” among the administration’s most coveted positions.
Duckworth readily accepted the White House’s concession late Tuesday in a statement from her spokesman:
Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden Administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government, including appointing an AAPI senior White House official to represent the community, secure the confirmation of AAPI appointments and advance policy proposals that are relevant and important to the community.
For the first time in 20 years, no Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were included in the administration’s cabinet secretary slots, as they have all been filled.
Duckworth initially demanded AAPI individuals be nominated to either the Office of Budget and Management (OMB), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or various other cabinet positions, saying she would remain a “no” vote until the administration made such commitments.
Duckworth insisted Tuesday that “Asian American lawmakers were told the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and White House budget director would be Asian American.”
Duckworth’s concerns were also shared Tuesday by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who is also of Asian descent.
“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,” Hirono stated.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also released a statement expressing the administration’s commitment to the AAPI community.
“The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country. That has always been, and remains our goal.” Adding, “The White House will add a senior-level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison, who will ensure the community’s voice is further represented and heard,” she said.
Breitbart News reported that Neera Tanden, of Indian descent, withdrew her nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget, mentioning, “it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities.”