Duckworth on Zinke's improper use of Japanese: ‘Racism is not ok’

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthLawmakers press Trump admin for list of migrant kids separated from families The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near Ocasio-Cortez responds to Dem senator who said policies 'too far to the left' don't win in Midwest MORE (D-Ill.) offered a condemnation of racism for Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Trump’s policies blasting at the foundations of conservation in public land law Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet MORE on Thursday after he responded in Japanese to a lawmaker's question about funding historical sites memorializing Japanese internment camps.

"Nope. Racism is not ok," Duckworth tweeted, posting a news article about the exchange between Zinke and Rep. Colleen HanabusaColleen Wakako HanabusaOvernight Energy: Zinke defends ‘Konichiwa’ greeting | Lowe's drops cancer-linked chemical from stores | Fight between EPA, Dem over summit heats up Zinke cites ‘friends that were Japanese’ in defending 'konichiwa' greeting West Virginians thankfully rejected Don Blankenship's racist remarks MORE (D-Hawaii).

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Hanabusa asked Zinke during a budget hearing for the Interior Department on Thursday whether he would ensure funding for a grant program, known as the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, which seeks to preserve the history of World War II-era Japanese internment camps.

"Konnichiwa," Zinke replied, using a Japanese greeting commonly used to express "good afternoon."

"I think it's still 'ohayo gozaimasu,' but that’s okay," Hanabusa said, using the Japanese phrase for "good morning."

Zinke ultimately told Hanabusa he would look into the funding, saying "it is important" to preserve such sites.

The exchange also drew the ire of Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoUnions aren’t a thing of the past. Unions are our future. Administration to brief Senate panel on family reunifications Lawmakers press Trump admin for list of migrant kids separated from families MORE (D-Hawaii), who slammed Zinke for acting "flippant" and "juvenile" in his response to Hanabusa's question.

"The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a clever response to @RepHanabusa was flippant & juvenile," Hirono wrote in Twitter.