Sen. Tammy Ducksworth didn’t appreciate the White House’s insinuation that Vice President Kamala Harris fulfilled the quota on Asian American representation in high-level cabinet positions – and she wasn’t shy about voicing her disappointment.
“To be told that you have Kamala Harris, we are proud of her, you don’t need anybody else is insulting,” Ducksworth told CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, according to a Twitter thread. “That’s not something you would say to the Black caucus: That you have Kamala, we’re not going to be put any African Americans in the Cabinet, why would you say that to AAPIs?”
Ducksworth reportedly made the comments after saying they were promised the budget director would be Asian-American, but it appeared Biden’s Administration was “going in a different direction”after Neera Tanden’s nomination fell through. Ducksworth added Asian American and Pacific Islander representation was still needed at the government’s highest levels and Harris was not a cure-all for that.
“When I asked about AAPI representation in the second part, the first words out of the staff’s mouth is: ‘We’re very proud of Vice President Harris, which is incredibly insulting,” Duckworth said.
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The Illinois senator then noted she would not vote on any of Biden’s nominees until there was AAPI representation for the vacant cabinet positions.
“Until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees,” she said, including sub-Cabinet choices and judicial nominees. She said she would support racial minorities and LGBTQ nominees. After informing the White House, Duckworth said: “They will get back to me.”
Ducksworth was joined by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono in her boycott of Biden’s nominees. The duo stood down, however, once the White House promised to “add a senior Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison and pledge to elevate diverse voices to the highest levels of government,” CNN reported.
“The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “That has always been, and remains our goal. The White House will add a senior level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison, who will ensure the community’s voice is further represented and heard.”
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