HomePoliticsBiden's Cabinet has no AAPI secretary

Biden’s Cabinet has no AAPI secretary

UPDATED 9:05 p.m. Eastern Time with additional reaction

No AAPI officials will hold secretary positions in President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet. 

Biden announced the last of his picks for secretary positions Thursday, NPR reports, putting names down for Attorney General, Secretary of Labor, and Secretary of Commerce.  

According to NPR, Biden nominated Merrick Garland for Attorney General, and is expected to nominate Marty Walsh for labor secretary and Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary. 

“This will mark the first time in 20 years that there has been no AAPI secretary in the Cabinet — even after Asian voters helped Biden win key states such as Georgia,” reporter Seung Min Kim said via Twitter

“We are deeply disappointed by the decision to exclude AAPIs from the 15 Cabinet Secretary positions who oversee executive departments in our government,” the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said in a statement. “The glaring omission of an AAPI Cabinet Secretary in the self-declared ‘most diverse Cabinet in history’ is not lost on us and sends a demoralizing message to our nation’s fastest growing racial group and voting bloc that AAPIs do not need to be counted the same way as other key constituency groups.”

The Japanese American Citizens League urged Biden to consider more AAPIs for senior positions to make up for the lack of representation at the cabinet secretary level.

“It is unacceptable that the new Administration will begin with a lack of AAPI representation at the Secretary level,” it said. “Representation may not be the end all be all, but there is no excuse not to select an AAPI person for Cabinet Secretary when there are so many qualified individuals.”

In the months following the 2020 presidential election, several AAPI officials had reportedly been on the shortlist for Biden’s Cabinet, a previous AsAmNews article reports. 

Julie Su was a potential candidate for Secretary of Labor, AsAmNews reports. Su, California’s current Labor Secretary, had received widespread support from labor leaders such as Dolores Huerta. 

Additionally, Illionian Sen. Tammy Duckworth was a possibility for Secretary of Defense or Secretary of Veteran Affairs. Duckworth, a former Iraq veteran, could have become the first Thai American Cabinet member in U.S. history.  

Both positions are set to be filled by Denis McDonough and retired general Lloyd Austin respectively, New York Magazine reports. 

According to NY Mag, McDonough was a former White House chief of staff under the Obama administration and “never served in the armed forces, a fact noted by a leading veterans organization.” 

Nonetheless, other Biden picks are set to make history, including Deb Haaland as the first Indigenous cabinet secretary and Austin as the first Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. history.

AAPIs also cinched other positions in the Biden administration: Katherine Tai will be the first Asian American woman to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. Neera Tanden is expected to become the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget. 

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