Democratic Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth vowed Tuesday that she will vote against the confirmation of every upcoming white nominee selected by President Joe Biden (unless they are LGBTQ), until an Asian American or Pacific Islander is put forth for consideration by the administration.
What are the details?
Duckworth told a CNN reporter she will vote “no” on Biden’s picks until the president appoints Asian American and Pacific Islanders to high level positions in the administration.
She told the press pool, “I am a no vote on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees. You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else I’m not voting for.”
The senator complained, “There’s no AAPI representation in the cabinet. There’s not a single AAPI in a cabinet position. That’s unacceptable,” adding that “President Biden will be the first president in 20 years without a cabinet secretary who is AAPI.”
Duckworth, who was born in Thailand, explained that she made the decision after being insulted by a comment made by a White House official during a webcast with Senate Democrats on Monday evening, The New York Post reported.
According to Duckworth, White House deputy chief of staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon allegedly suggested that Asian Americans should be satisfied with the fact that Vice President Kamala Harris is a part of the administration. The Post noted that “Harris is biracial; her mother was born in India and her father is black and from Jamaica.”
Duckworth said that “when I asked about AAPI representation… the first words out of the staff’s mouth was ‘Well, we’re very proud of Vice President Harris’, which is incredibly insulting.”
“To be told that, ‘Well, you have Kamala Harris, we’re very proud of her, you don’t need anybody else’ is insulting… last night, that was the trigger for me,” Duckworth fumed.
“But multiple times I’ve heard that,” the senator continued. “And that’s 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.'”
The Democrat from Illinois said that she informed the White House this morning of her decision to reject their non-diverse candidates, and “they will get back to me.”
Following the news of Duckworth’s protest, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Forbes that she would join Duckworth in opposing all white, straight candidates.
“We’re very serious about this because Joe Biden made a commitment,” Hirono said.
She argued it’s “not about pitting one diversity group against another,” and that she’s “happy to vote for a Hispanic, an LGBTQ person, an AAPI person.”