Democratic Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Democratic Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono criticized President Joe Biden and his administration on Tuesday over its lack of representation from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Both senators went after the Biden administration separately, with Hirono appearing on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” and Duckworth speaking off-camera with CNN’s Manu Raju. (RELATED: ‘F*ck Tucker Carlson’: Sen. Tammy Duckworth Says ‘Happy Belated International Women’s Day’ To Almost Everyone)
“I should call everyone’s attention to the fact that one of your colleagues, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, said today that she told the White House she will vote against all of President Biden’s nominees who are still outstanding until they rectify the fact that there is no AAPI representation in Biden’s cabinet. Do you stand with her in that?” guest host Alex Wagner asked Hirono.
“Tammy’s position is that until she gets a commitment from the White House that there will be more diversity representation in the cabinet and senior White House advisory positions, she will not vote to confirm anyone who does not represent diversity,” Hirono responded. “This is not about pitting one diversity group against another. I think this is a well articulated, focused position, and I am prepared to join her in that.”
Wagner then asked Hirono if she thought the Biden administration had been receptive to her ideas of “more diversity,” to which Hirono responded, “Obviously not, otherwise Tammy and I wouldn’t be taking our position. We would like to encourage them to do better.”
Hirono concluded by saying she hoped there was a desire for the Biden’s administration to do better.
Earlier in the day Raju tweeted that Duckworth told him she will be voting “No” on all Biden nominees until he either makes a commitment to, or appoints, members of the AAPI community to “key executive branch positions.” According to Raju, Duckworth found it “insulting” that senior White House aides would point to Vice President Kamala Harris, who is of Indian descent, “when asked about AAPI picks.”
Tammy Duckworth just told me she’s voting NO on Biden nominees until President makes commitment/ appoints AAPI picks to key executive branch positions. She said found it “insulting” that a senior WH aide last night pointed to Harris’ South Asian roots when asked about AAPI picks
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2021
Biden received criticism in January for the lack of representation from the AAPI community in his group of cabinet nominees. The recent focus on the rise in violence against Asian-Americans has prompted a renewed focus on the inclusion of members of the AAPI in key government positions. With the Senate at a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, a loss of two Democratic votes could prove to be a big challenge for Biden’s remaining, and future, nominees to be confirmed to their posts. (RELATED: ‘A Bullseye On The Back Of Asian Americans’: Democratic Rep. Grace Meng Gives Tearful Rebuke Of Rep. Chip Roy During House Hearing)