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Slots running out for Biden to select AAPI for cabinet secretary

Just a handful of cabinet secretary positions remain open in President-elect Joe Biden’s White House, and so far not a single Asian American or Pacific Islander has been nominated.

Those positions are US Attorney General, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Commerce. Less than three weeks remain before Biden’s inauguration.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus this month released a joint statement urging Biden to nominate an Asian American Pacific Islander to one of those positions.

“Without an AAPI Cabinet Secretary, we could not celebrate this as a truly diverse Cabinet because it sends the message that AAPIs do not need to be included,” the group’s statement reads.

Among those currently being considered are California labor secretary Julie Su and the CEO of East West Bank, Dominic Ng.

“As CEO of East West Bank, a former United Way Chair and Board Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Dominic understands our economy and how to help rebuild it after this pandemic,” Rep Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said in a statement.

Ng is reportedly being considered for the Commerce position. He is a former chair of the Committee of 100 and currently serves on the Boards of Mattel and the University of Southern California, as well as the Academy of Museum of Motion Pictures.

More prominently mentioned is Su for the position of US Labor Secretary.

“Her background spearheading statewide efforts to combat wage theft and worker retaliation, oversee both worker compensation and unemployment insurance, and protect the health and safety of working Americans make her supremely qualified to help steer our nation as we work to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” CAPAC said.

Politico reported, however, that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh leads the list of candidates for that job. Biden, however, delayed making an announcement while he considers concerns for diversity. Labor leaders remain divided over the choice, with Walsh, Su and Patrick Gaspard, a former ambassador to South Africa in the Obama administration all picking up endorsements.

Biden’s White House will not be devoid of Asian Americans. The most prominent will be Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. She could potentially be joined by Neera Tanden, a nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget; US Trade Representative nominee Katherine Tai and Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy, who held the same position in the Obama administration.

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