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Biden’s lawmakers: “Improve” on cabinet diversity

“We are very, very concerned as a community, as a Latino community,” said Texas spokesman Vicente Gonzalez, who last week called for at least five Latin Americans to be appointed to cabinet-level positions.

Defenders and officials in the Asia-America and Pacific Islands have warned the Biden administration that it would be “deeply disappointing if several AAPIs are not nominated” for cabinet positions. They are becoming increasingly convinced that the president-elect will not match a total of three Asian Americans in his first cabinet.

Congress, meanwhile, is urging Biden to elect a black defense minister and increase the number of leading African-American units in general.

Together, critics highlight the challenges facing Biden̵

7;s transition in meeting expectations for a historically diverse cabinet. And that underscores the growing demands for equal representation after the presidential election, in which Asian Americans made a difference in Georgia, Latinos backed Biden in Arizona, and black voters pushed him toward the nomination and eventual victory.

But reassuring everyone can be an almost impossible task, especially given the reality of the zero amount of cabinet jockey and the limited level of top positions.

Latino lawmakers and outside groups, for example, are pushing New Mexico Gov. Michel Lucian Grisham for health and humanitarian services – but eavesdropping on former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murty, an Indian-American, could anger Asian advocacy groups.

“It’s no secret that looking at the number of people hired … we don’t see too many Asian Americans there, do we?” Said Bell Leong-Hong, chairman of the Democratic Committee’s AAPI parliamentary group.

Those who lobby the transition team say there is still time for Biden to achieve his lofty goals in diversity. But some Democrats are pessimistic after seeing the first rounds of recruitment.

Biden’s White House core team will be predominantly white, including his chief of staff, communications director, press secretary, director of legislation and one of his best economic advisers. And two of the so-called. Positions of the Big Four cabinet – at the top of the Ministry of State, Treasury, Justice and Defense – are already held by white candidates.

“The real way for Biden to go down in history would be to nominate a colored person for one or more of these Big Four positions, and now they are only up to two,” said Janet Murgia, president of UnidosUS and former adviser to President Bill Clinton. . “So there will be huge control by both blacks and Latinos over the other two jobs – the Department of Defense and Justice – and rightly so.”

A Black House lawmaker who asked for anonymity to speak more freely while Biden took office said more bluntly. “It needs to be strengthened,” he said, noting that Kamala Harris’s election as vice president did not apologize to Biden for appointing fewer African Americans to head key departments.

Biden’s transition team says the president-elect will have a diverse administration when all is said and done. “His success in finding different voices to develop and implement his political vision to address the nation’s most difficult challenges will become clear when our full list of nominees and nominees is complete,” a Biden-Harris transition official said in a statement.

It is true that, as the transition official pointed out, Biden “announced several historic and diverse appointments to the White House and nominated in the cabinet.” He appointed an all-female senior communications team, for example, as well as the first colored woman to head the Office of Management and Budget and the first woman to be nominated as secretary of the Treasury.

But in 2020, the bar for diversity was raised far beyond the seven women and 10 white employees in President Barack Obama’s first cabinet.

AAPI senior officials cite the huge increase in voter turnout among Asian and American voters in the 2020 election – including in key countries he won, such as Georgia and Arizona – as one of the reasons they are well represented throughout the administration. Early voting and absentee voting among AAPI voters rose nearly 300 percent in the states on the battlefield this year, according to the Democratic data company Catalist.

Biden’s transition announced on Monday that Nira Tanden, an Indian American, will be nominated for head of government and budget. But some AAPI officials said they still feared Biden was unlikely to meet the criterion set by Obama, who appointed three AAPI candidates to cabinet positions at the start of his term.

“We just want to make sure that the Biden administration – and we passed this on from day one – has diverse representation and that diversity includes AAPI,” said spokeswoman Grace Meng (DN.Y.), DNC vice president. “This is not always fully understood.”

The influential Congress of Spain also organized an active campaign of pressure.

During phone calls and letters, lawmakers said the transition agency review teams were approximately 11 percent Hispanic, and their COVID-19 advisory board was about 15 percent Hispanic, each less than about 20 percent of the American population. presented by Latin Americans.

And while they welcomed the nomination of Cuban-American Alejandro Mayorkas as head of Homeland Security, the first immigrant and first Latin American to hold office if confirmed, it did not come close to representing the breadth of Latinos across the country, they said.

“When we talk about diversity, we also have to talk about diversity in the Spanish community,” said California Democratic Representative Raul Ruiz. “The majority of Latinos in the United States are Mexican Americans, so it would be important and useful to be nominated. The Puerto Rican and Cuban-American and Dominican-American experiences are also important and must also be reflected. “

Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat, said he had warned Democrats of growing support for Republicans among Mexican-American communities in South Texas and other states on the battlefield.

“When Republicans come into our districts and say, ‘What have Democrats done for you?’ “And we have a low-performing or under-represented Democrat president in his cabinet and government, that’s a difficult answer,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t want to defend this.”

In addition to Lucian Grisham, Latino lawmakers support either DNC President Tom Perez or California Attorney General Xavier Bessera to head the Justice Department. Ruiz’s name has also surfaced by some members of the Spanish-speaking club as a potential addition to Biden’s administration, given his medical experience as a doctor.

According to many members, members of the Black Council Congress are putting pressure on Biden’s transition team on an individual level. Many take their signals from Cliburn, who is pushing for the Democratic Republic of Ohio Marcia Fudge to be elected the first black woman secretary of agriculture.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) Said he was closely following who Biden was naming to lead housing and urban planning, noting that Democrats had not nominated a black man to head the HUD since 1965, when the department was established by the president. Lyndon Johnson. And he echoed other members of the CBC who say former Homeland Security Secretary Je Johnson “the name should be in the mix” for the defense minister.

“I’m not ready to panic,” Cleaver said of the administration’s representation, adding that members see Biden as someone who understands their demands and the “delicacy” of keeping a diverse party happy.

“The philosophy of those of us who have been involved in the civil rights movement is that even if they are friends, you know, you don’t give in to your expressions of expectation,” Clever said. “We expect him to do it. the right thing. “

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