Hispanic Caucus lobbying Biden for Education nominee

Hispanic Caucus lobbying Biden for Education nominee
© Greg Nash

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pushing for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE to nominate its preference for the Education secretary position, former president of the National Education Association (NEA) Lily Eskelsen García.

In a letter sent to Biden's transition team Monday evening, Hispanic Caucus chair Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) and Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarPublic lands that look like America GOP leans into racial issues ahead of midterms Photos of the Week: Infrastructure, Britney Spears and Sen. Tillis's dog MORE (D-Texas) called on the president-elect to nominate García, who is backed by more than 40 Latino advocacy groups, Politico reported.

"Lily's long record of accomplishments, working across the political divide, and building and maintaining constituencies would make her an excellent Secretary of Education," the representatives wrote in the letter, obtained by Politico. "Her relationships in Congress also position her well for confirmation."

The letter is signed by 23 members of the Hispanic Caucus, with Castro calling García a "visionary leader who understands education from bottom to top."

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Her sweeping support among dozens of Latino advocacy groups has made García a top contender among potential candidates for the position. Some Hispanic Caucus members have said the move to nominate her would play into fulfilling Biden's promise to make the most diverse cabinet in U.S. history.

"Not only would President-elect Biden fulfill a campaign process to nominate an educator as Secretary of Education by putting Lily's name forward; he would make history by nominating the first Latina ever to serve in this role," the letter added.

Other Latino lawmakers have lauded Eskelsen García's prior roles in the education sector, noting her start as a school cafeteria worker, becoming Utah teacher of the year, and later heading the 3-million-member NEA.

During a recent meeting with Biden transition leaders, Escobar asked if a Latina would be named to a top Cabinet secretary position. Biden's advisers did not offer a clear commitment, but did say they are making diversity a priority.

“We've not yet seen a Latina appointed to a Cabinet-level position or in the top four positions,” said Escobar. “The Biden administration is putting a premium on diversity, but I do think it's my job and it's the caucus' job to maintain that level of accountability.”