• Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, earlier vowed to oppose any non-diversity nominees
  • Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, joined Duckworth in protest
  • Asian American Katherine Tai was recently picked as the trade representative

The White House ensured the support of the two Asian American senators for President Biden's nominees to high offices after promising greater representation for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communites.

Senators Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, the only representatives of the AAPI communities in the upper house, have offered their support to the White House nominees after threatening to vote against them in confirmation hearings.

The only Asian American with a cabinet rank is Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative. She is not a cabinet secretary though.

"Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden administration's assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government, including appointing an AAPI senior White House official to represent the community," said Duckworth spokesperson Ben Garmisa. The White House also promised to secure the confirmation of AAPI appointments and advance policy proposals that are relevant and important to the community.

"Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden's qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders," Garmisa said.

Duckworth, a Thai American, had earlier vowed to oppose any "non-diversity" nominees, amid reports of increased attacks against the Asian community.

"I am a 'no' vote, on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees.... I will vote for racial minorities and LGBTQ but anybody else, I'm not voting for," said Duckworth.

Duckworth said when she approached the White House about AAPI representation, "the first words out of the staff's mouth was 'well, we're very proud of Vice President Harris' which is incredibly insulting. That's not the first time I've heard that."

Hirono, also of Asian American descent, had promised to join Duckworth in blocking Biden's nominees until more Asian Americans are added to his administration. "This is not about pitting one diversity group against another," Hirono said on MSNBC. "I think this is a well-articulated, focused position."

She later dropped her opposition following a "productive" conversation with the White House.

"Based on the private conversation we had, I will continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration," she said.

"I welcome the appointment of a senior-level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice," the statement said.

Biden told reporters Tuesday, “We have the most diverse Cabinet in history. We have a lot of Asian Americans that are in the Cabinet and in sub-Cabinet levels.”

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond too defended the administration's stance on diversity saying more Asian Americans will be appointed to key positions.