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Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Democrat Senators Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono back off ultimatum to BLOCK any Biden nominees who aren't minorities until more Asian-Americans are picked to serve in the Cabinet

 Sen. Tammy Duckworth has backed down from her public threats not to vote for Joe Biden's straight, white nominees until the White House just a few hours after issuing the ultimatum.

Yesterday, Duckworth warned that until President Joe Biden increased the representation of Asian American - Pacific Islander representation at senior levels of government, she would be voting against some of his selections for cabinet and judicial nominees.

However, in a statement issued to NBC News, Duckworth's spokesman said: 'Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden Administration's assurance that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voiced and perspectives at the highest level of government, including appointing an AAPI senior White House official to represent the community, secure the confirmation of AAPI appointments and advance policy proposals that are relevant to the community.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth has backed down from her public threats not to vote for Joe Biden's straight, white nominees until the White House until more Asian-Americans are chosen for high-level jobs in the administration, just a few hours after issuing the ultimatum

Sen. Tammy Duckworth has backed down from her public threats not to vote for Joe Biden's straight, white nominees until the White House until more Asian-Americans are chosen for high-level jobs in the administration, just a few hours after issuing the ultimatum

President Joe Biden
Vice President Kamala Harris

Duckworth applauded President Joe Biden (left) for defending Asian-Americans during an uptick in hate crimes against members of the community, but slammed an administration official for saying Vice President Kamala Harris (right) was enough AAPI representation 

Taking to Twitter last night, Sen. Mazie Hirono (pictured) praised the White House for introducing an AAPI liaison, following a 'private conversation' about the importance of diversity with president Biden

Taking to Twitter last night, Sen. Mazie Hirono (pictured) praised the White House for introducing an AAPI liaison, following a 'private conversation' about the importance of diversity with president Biden 

'Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders.'

Duckworth's demands had been joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono Tuesday, but she too joined her fellow senator in backing down.

'The president has made it clear that his administration will reflect the diversity of the country. 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,' Press secretary Jen Psaki told DailyMail.com. 

Taking to Twitter last night, Hirono praised the White House for introducing an AAPI liaison, following a 'private conversation' about the importance of diversity with Biden.

As a result of the conversation, Hirono said she would now continue to vote for the 'historic and highly qualified' nominees put forward by Biden. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (pictured) said yesterday that she would no longer vote for any of President Joe Biden's straight, white nominees until more Asian-Americans are chosen for high-level jobs in the administration

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (pictured) said yesterday that she would no longer vote for any of President Joe Biden's straight, white nominees until more Asian-Americans are chosen for high-level jobs in the administration

Duckworth's demands had been joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono (pictured) yesterday, but she too joined her fellow senator in backing down

Duckworth's demands had been joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono (pictured) yesterday, but she too joined her fellow senator in backing down

In a series of tweets, Sen. Mazie Hirono said she would now continue to vote for the 'historic and highly qualified' nominees put forward by President Biden

In a series of tweets, Sen. Mazie Hirono said she would now continue to vote for the 'historic and highly qualified' nominees put forward by President Biden

Speaking to CNN's Pamela Brown yesterday, White House official Cedric Richmond said Biden's administration was looking to appoint more Asian Americans to key positions.   

It comes just a few hours after Sen. Duckworth said she wouldn't be voting for President Joe Biden's straight, white nominees any longer, until Asian-Americans are chosen to serve in the upper ranks of his administration like the cabinet. 

'President Biden will be the first president in 20 years without a cabinet secretary who's AAPI,' Duckworth told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill, using the acronym for Asian-American and Pacific-Islander. 'To be told that, well, you have Kamala Harris, we're very proud of her you don’t need anybody else is insulting,' the Illinois Democrat added. 

Duckworth said she would only be voting for Biden's 'diversity nominees,' which she defined as non-white, as well as members of the LGBTQ community. Later Tuesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono, who's also of Asian descent, said she agreed with Duckworth's stance and would also only vote for 'diversity nominees.'  

Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth speaks about anti-Asian hate
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Duckworth complimented Biden's response - saying that he's been 'caring and thoughtful and humane' - to what Asian-Americans have gone through, first with the uptick in hate crimes linked to being blamed for the coronavirus pandemic, and then to last week's Georgia spa shootings, which targeted Asian-American businesses. 

Biden has spoken out against Asian-American racism several times and signed an executive order condemning former President Donald Trump's use of racist terms to refer to the coronavirus. 

Duckworth called out Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon for pointing to Vice President Kamala Harris as evidence of enough Asian-American representation

Duckworth called out Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon for pointing to Vice President Kamala Harris as evidence of enough Asian-American representation 

However, an exchange Monday night with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon left a bad taste in Duckworth's mouth. 

'Last night, that was the trigger for me,' Duckworth said. 

She told reporters that the comment about Harris, who's half Indian-American, was made by Dillon. 

'But multiple times I've heard that. And that is not something you would say to the black caucus - "well, you have Kamala, we're not going to put any more African-Americans in the cabinet because you have Kamala,"' Duckworth said. 'Why would you say it to AAPI?' 

Harris is also half Jamaican-American.

The White House has yet to respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment. 

'We have the most diverse cabinet in history. We have a lot of Asian-Americans that are in the cabinet and in sub-cabinet levels,' Biden argued when asked by reporters about the senators' boycott. 

Hirono said she wasn't 'offended' when Dillon brought up Harris' name. 

'But I joined her in our frustration and disappointment that there is not more AAPI representation in the cabinet, for one thing,' the Hawaii Democrat added.

Most of Biden's cabinet jobs are already filled, but Duckworth, a veteran, pointed to positions like deputy secretary of defense and assistant secretary of defense for policy. 

The top gig at the Office of Management and Budget also remains vacant after Biden's initial pick, Center for American Progress think tank leader Neera Tanden's controversial tweets, cost her too many Senate votes. 

Duckworth also said the Federal Communications Commission chair could be Asian-American.  

Under former President Donald Trump the job belonged to Ajit Pai, the son of Indian immigrants. 

Another Asian-American, Elaine Chao, served as Trump's transportation secretary. 

'They could make a commitment for a future cabinet secretary, an actual cabinet secretary,' Duckworth also offered. 

Biden vowed to have the most diverse cabinet in history, but no cabinet-level officials are Asian-American. 

Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative, is the most senior Asian-American official.   

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