Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) will not block President Biden’s cabinet nominees. The senators’ announcements come after each had pledged Tuesday to object to non-diverse candidates over a lack of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in the administration.
NPR reports that Duckworth reached a deal with the White House late Tuesday. The White House agreed to add a senior liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in exchange for Duckworth’s vote on all upcoming nominees.
In a statement made on behalf of Duckworth, spokesman Ben Gash Garmisa said that the senator “appreciates the Biden administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government and that “Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders.”
Hirono later issued a statement on Twitter saying that she’d had “a productive conversation with the White House today to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President’s cabinet,” and that she would “welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice.”
Both Hirono and Duckworth had earlier objected to the fact that there are currently no AAPI Cabinet members, and had vowed to vote against all non-diverse nominees going forward. They would, however, continue to vote for minority and LGBTQ+ nominees.
While their objects follow last week’s deadly shooting in Atlanta which left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, Duckworth did tell reporters on Tuesday that she’d been speaking with the White House for months about lack of AAPI representation.