President Biden has reportedly tapped Erika Moritsugu, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, to serve as a senior-level adviser in charge of outreach to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
The Biden administration’s expected appointment of Moritsugu as a senior-level AAPI liaison comes on the heels of an ultimatum late last month from Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), both of whom are of Asian descent, over the lack of AAPI representation in the President’s Cabinet. Duckworth and Hirono vowed to vote no on Biden’s nominees unless the White House committed to a plan to tap more nominees of AAPI descent for high-level positions in the administration.
Hours after Duckworth and Hirono issued their ultimatum, the White House agreed to add a senior-level AAPI liaison, which happened days after a suspected Georgia man gunned down eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
According to the Post, Moritsugu is set to report to Bruce Reed, Biden’s deputy chief of staff, with the rank of deputy assistant to the President.
The news of Moritsugu’s appointment was reported a day before the President is scheduled to meet with the leadership team of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the Oval Office.
Moritsugu previously worked as the vice president of government relations, advocacy and community engagement at the Anti-Defamation League.
Additionally, Moritsugu has experience in federal government and on Capitol Hill. She worked as a staff member under Duckworth and former Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI); served in the Senate Democratic Policy Committee under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration; and served as a deputy assistant director for legislative affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The announcement of Moritsugu’s appointment is expected to occur as anti-Asian hate crimes legislation, introduced by Hirono and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), moves through the Senate.
While 92 senators on Wednesday voted in favor of advancing the bill directing the Justice Department to accelerate its review of anti-Asian hate crimes and strengthen reporting on the issue, six Republicans voted against it: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).
“The ‘COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,’ has been moved to the Senate floor with little commentary, fact-finding, or Committee consideration,” Cotton said in a statement.