CHC urges Biden to choose Latinos to head Education Department, SBA: report

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Hispanic lawmakers are urging President-elect Joe Biden to appoint more Latinos to his future administration’s Cabinet.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) sent a letter to the Biden transition team on Friday advocating for Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to serve as Education secretary, Politico reported.

They’re also urging Biden to pick Stacie Olivares to lead the Small Business Administration.

“The members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) are proud to offer our enthusiastic endorsement of Mr. Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education and of Ms. Stacie Olivares for Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA),” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, first obtained by Politico. 

The letter highlighted Cardona’s career, from being an elementary school teacher to the first Latino to be education commissioner in Connecticut. The support for Cardona is a change for the caucus, which previously endorsed Lily Eskelen García for the role.

The Hill reported last Tuesday that Eskelen García — the former president of the National Education Association — was the front-runner for the role, although several candidates were still being interviewed. 

However, the lawmakers said they still supported her.  

“We had previously sent a support letter for Lily Eskelsen Garcia for Secretary of Education and we remain strongly supportive of her,” the letter says.

The letter also highlights Olivares’ level of experience,  saying she would “lead the Small Business Administration with distinction from day one.”

Biden has been under pressure to build a Cabinet that reflects America’s diversity, and Hispanic lawmakers and organizations have pushed for Biden to appoint at least five Latino members to his Cabinet.

The letters comes after the transition team reportedly leaked that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) turned down an offer to serve as Biden’s Interior secretary, a position that was ultimately filled by nominee Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.). 

The news was surprising to the CHC, which backed Lujan Grisham to serve as Health and Human Services secretary. 

The Caucus “laid into the transition team” during a virtual meeting on the matter, expressing frustration at the way Lujan Grisham was treated, a source told The Hill.

Biden selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) for that role earlier this month

The transition has committed to putting a Latina in a Cabinet role.

A spokesperson for the transition didn’t directly comment on the CHC’s letter, but pointed to Biden’s remarks from last Wednesday when he introduced former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) to serve as Transportation secretary.

“This Cabinet will be the most representative of any Cabinet in American history,” Biden said before introducing Buttigieg. “We’ll have a cabinet of barrier breakers, a Cabinet of firsts.”

Biden has touted his Cabinet as the most diverse in history amid criticism that it isn’t diverse enough. The president-elect has rolled out 19 Cabinet positions out of about two dozen, 11 of whom are people of color and 10 of whom are women.

Among his picks, Biden has selected Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security, the first Latino to lead DHS.

The Hill has reached out to the CHC for comment.

–Updated on Dec. 20 at 2:09 p.m.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Congressional Hispanic Caucus Deb Haaland Joe Biden Michelle Lujan Grisham Miguel Cardona Pete Buttigieg Stacie Olivares Xavier Becerra

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