Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) backed down from their threat to block future Biden nominees over a lack of Asian American representation after receiving “assurances” from the Biden administration to elevate Asian American voices in the federal government and to add a senior Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison.
“The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “That has always been, and remains our goal. 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.”
In a statement, Duckworth spokesperson Ben Garmisa said the senator “appreciates the Biden administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices. Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Duckworth vowed to block future Biden picks without a White House plan to tap more nominees of Asian American descent. She was joined hours later by Sen. Hirono who said their effort was “not about pitting one diversity group against another.”
“I’m happy to vote for a Hispanic, a Black person, an LGBTQ person, an AAPI person. I’d just like to see more diversity representation,” Hirono said.
Shortly after Duckworth backed down, Sen. Hirono did as well.
“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,” Hirono said. “Based on the private conversation we had, I will continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration.”