Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) stirred up the latest Capitol Hill controversy when she told CNN's Manu Raju how she planned to decide on President Biden's nominees. She said she won't even be considering his nominees until he appoints Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders to key executive branch roles.
"Until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees," she said.
The first nominee to be held hostage, she told Raju, would be one of Biden's Pentagon nominees, Colin Kahl.
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
While Duckworth said she was moved to hear Biden speak out against the recent string of violence against Asian-Americans, she indicated that White House staff told her to be happy that Kamala Harris is the vice president. Harris has made history as the first female, Black, South Asian American VP.
"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," according to Duckworth.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) signed on to her colleague's pledge.
"I welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice," Hirono tweeted. "I had a productive conversation with the White House today to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President’s cabinet."
But both women have since backtracked following heaps of backlash. Now, they're deciding that the best way to vote yes or no on nominees is to consider their qualifications.
Based on the private conversation we had, I will continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration.— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) March 24, 2021