Senate

Hirono, Duckworth drop objections to Biden nominees

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) says she will also drop objections to non-minority nominees for Cabinet positions put forth by the Biden administration after the White House announced the appointment of a senior-level Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) liaison. 

“I welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice,” Hirono tweeted late Tuesday night. “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 and fellow Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) both threatened on Tuesday to hold out votes to confirm any non-diversity Cabinet nominees. 

Hirono said earlier in the day she and Duckworth “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.” 
 
“Until that happens,” Hirono said. “I will be joining her in voting on non-diversity nominees.” 

Duckworth initially said on Tuesday that she was “a ‘no’ vote, on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees.”

“I will vote for racial minorities and LGBTQ, but anybody else I’m not voting for,” she added.

After the announced plan to appoint a liaison, Duckworth late Tuesday said she too would stand down on objections to future Cabinet nominees who are not ethnic minorities. 
 
“Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices,” her office said. 
 
The White House needs every one of the 50 Democratic senators to vote for their nominees in order to get them confirmed. 
 
The lawmakers’ demand comes as a growing number of activists and lawmakers decry what they say is an increased hostility toward Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. These tensions were inflamed further by a string of shootings at massage parlors in metro Atlanta last week that left six Asian American women dead. 
 
Hirono said earlier that when the senators pressed White House officials about what they perceive as a lack of diversity in his Cabinet, White House staff told them they were “very proud of Vice President Harris.”
 
The senator called the comment “incredibly insulting.” 
 
Late on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden has made “it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country.” 
Tags Democratic Party Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Biden Mazie Hirono Mazie Hirono Members of the United States Congress Tammy Duckworth Tammy Duckworth

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