After pushing again Dems, the White Home appoints Erika Moritsugu as a key AAPI place: NPR

The Biden government on Wednesday appointed Erika Moritsugu as assistant president and senior liaison to the Asian-American and Pacific islanders.

The announcement of the new role comes after weeks of pressure from Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who confronted White House officials with the lack of AAPI representation in key cabinet and senior positions.

Together they threatened not to vote no to any undiversified candidate who came to the Senate. But Hirono, who is of Japanese descent and Duckworth, who is Thai-American, changed positions after Biden promised to add the senior liaison position now occupied by Moritsugu.

“Moritsugu will bring her experience and expertise to the Biden-Harris administration, where she will be an important voice in advancing the president and the administration’s priorities,” the White House said in a statement.

Praising Moritsugu’s appointment, Duckworth said, “I applaud President Biden for addressing my concerns quickly and for creating a new high-level AAPI liaison position in the White House.”

“I know firsthand that President Biden will benefit from her advice, political expertise and strong relationship-building skills, especially if his administration wants to ensure that AAPI leaders are present at the highest levels of government,” she said and added that Moritsugu’s experience makes her uniquely qualified for the role.

Moritsugu, who served as general counsel for Duckworth, served as vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families and led the organization’s economic justice and congressional relations teams. Previously, she was Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.

The lack of an AAPI representation in the Biden-Harris administration, which would establish the most diverse cabinet in history, was re-examined after a year-long surge in violence against the same communities across the country. The surge has been attributed by some to former President Trump’s rhetoric about the coronavirus pandemic.

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