Sat, October 16, 2021

in-focus

Biden selects Asian American outreach director


WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden has selected Erika Moritsugu, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, to serve as a senior adviser overseeing outreach to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the White House announced Wednesday.

The move comes after weeks of pressure from Asian American leaders to diversify the upper ranks of the White House.

Moritsugu is expected to report to Bruce Reed, Biden's deputy chief of staff, with the rank of deputy assistant to the president, a person familiar with the announcement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said.

Moritsugu did not respond to a request for comment. Biden is scheduled to meet with the leadership team of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the Oval Office on Thursday.

Moritsugu previously worked at the Anti-Defamation League and served on the staffs of Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and former Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

She has also held various policy roles at the Democratic Policy Committee, worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration and oversaw Senate legislative affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

After the March 16 spa shootings in the Atlanta area, in which six Asian women were killed, Duckworth and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, threatened to block future Biden nominees because of the dearth of representation in the administration. They withdrew that threat after receiving assurances that Biden would appoint a senior Asian American White House official.

As Biden started to roll out his Cabinet and senior staff during the presidential transition, Asian American leaders raised concerns about the lack of representation of people of Asian descent.

Other than Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden only has one other person of Asian descent in his Cabinet, Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Biden nominated Neera Tanden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, but she withdrew her nomination after bipartisan pushback from senators concerned about her sometimes hard-hitting Twitter feed.

Asian American leaders are now pushing Biden to nominate Nani Coloretti, a former Obama official, for the OMB spot.

Published : April 15, 2021

By : Tyler Pager, Seung Min Kim The Washington Post