President Biden on Thursday named Erika Moritsugu, a top official at a women’s advocacy group and a veteran of Capitol Hill, as a senior liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community after two Democrats had threatened to derail Mr. Biden’s nominees over a lack of AAPI representation in top-level posts.
Ms. Moritsugu, a vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, is a former assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.
Her title will be deputy assistant to the president and AAPI senior liaison.
She currently leads the economic justice team at the National Partnership, working on issues tied to advancing women of color and other underrepresented groups.
Ms. Moritsugu is also a former top official at the Anti-Defamation League.
She has served as the general counsel for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Democrat, and managed Ms. Duckworth’s AAPI outreach, among other duties.
Last month, Ms. Duckworth and Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, had threatened to block Mr. Biden’s non-minority nominees to protest a lack of AAPI representation in the president’s Cabinet.
The senators backed off the threat after the White House agreed to add a senior-level AAPI liaison.
The Senate is divided 50-50 between the two parties, giving any single Democratic senator effective veto power over Mr. Biden’s personnel picks that require Senate confirmation if a nominee doesn’t win bipartisan support. Democrats have effective control of the chamber thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
The announcement of Ms. Moritsugu‘s appointment came on the same day that the Senate voted to move forward on legislation from Ms. Hirono intended to combat racism and harassment toward Asian Americans.
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