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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Democratic lawmakers are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to pick ambassadors with the same focus on diversity he used to fill his Cabinet, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The demand for more minorities representing the country abroad shows how some Democratic interest groups will hold Biden to his diversity pledge throughout the federal government, including his sub-Cabinet, U.S. attorneys and diplomats.

Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar wrote this weekend in a joint letter to Tony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, to discuss the "grave disparities in racial and ethnic minority representation in the Foreign Service."

  • Escobar (D-Texas) said, “Ambassadorial appointments, Foreign Service and Civil Service employees must reflect our broad diversity and the full breadth of American ingenuity and intellect."
  • Castro (D-Texas) wrote: "People are policy — and the diplomats who represent the United States to the world should reflect the diversity of the American people."
  • While under-representation predated President Trump, he appointed white people to more than 90% of his openings, Foreign Policy reported in 2018.

The big picture: The congressional call for ambassadorial diversity will complicate the ambitions of big-dollar Democratic donors, who hope to be rewarded for their fundraising prowess with postcard embassies in Western Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

  • Those plum posts have traditionally gone to donors or politicians representing about a third of the roughly 190 available ambassadorships.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) railed against the bipartisan practice of turning donors into diplomats during the campaign.
  • The president-elect was noncommittal on the campaign trail, saying, “I’m going to appoint the best people possible,” AP reported.

By the numbers: Trump picked more political ambassadors than his immediate predecessors, naming non-State Department employees like Gordon Sondland — a West Coast hotelier and GOP donor who served as ambassador to the European Union.

  • Trump tapped political ambassadors for 44% of his nominations, with the remaining 56% going to career Foreign Service officers, according to the American Foreign Service Association.
  • Under President Obama, 30% of his ambassadors came from the political or donor world, leaving some 70% for the diplomatic corps.
  • For President George W. Bush, the ratio was 32% to 68%.

Go deeper: The State Department has struggled to achieve greater minority representation in its upper ranks, with a Government Accountability Office report last year showing people of color make up 14% of the senior officers in the Foreign Service and 24% of the overall workforce.

  • Out of 189 U.S. ambassadors serving abroad last summer, three were Black and four were Hispanic career diplomats, according to the American Academy of Diplomacy.
  • "The President-elect and Secretary-designate Blinken know that the power of our example is strongest when we are leveraging diversity — especially among women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and other under-represented groups — at all levels, including senior leadership," said Ned Price, a transition spokesman.
  • Biden's team looks "forward to working with Congress on this task," Price said.

Go deeper

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Carbon emissions are roaring back from COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: IEA Global Energy Review 2021; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global energy-related carbon emissions will surge this year as coal, oil and natural gas consumption return from the pandemic that caused an unprecedented emissions decline, the International Energy Agency estimated Tuesday.

Why it matters: The projected rise of nearly 5% would be the largest since the "carbon intensive" recovery from the financial crisis over a decade ago, IEA said, putting emissions just below their 2019 peak.

32 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Jurors resume deliberations as the nation awaits Chauvin verdict

Protesters outside Hennepin County Government Center on the day of closing arguments. Photo: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial resume deliberations Tuesday morning as the nation waits for a verdict.

The latest: The 12 jurors met behind closed doors for about three hours Monday before breaking for the night at 7pm.