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Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.

  • Last month, Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) threatened to oppose Biden's "non-diversity" nominees unless he made a commitment to appoint AAPI voices in senior executive branch positions.

Details: Moritsugu, the vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, will be responsible for outreach to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

  • "Moritsugu will bring her experience and expertise to the Biden-Harris Administration where she will be a vital voice to advance the President and the Administration’s priorities," the White House said in a statement.

What they're saying: "I applaud President Biden for swiftly addressing my concerns and creating a new senior-level AAPI liaison position at the White House," Duckworth said in a statement Wednesday.

  • "I know first-hand that President Biden will benefit from her counsel, policy expertise and strong relationship-building skills, especially as his Administration seeks to make sure AAPI leaders are present at the highest levels of government."

Background: Moritsugu has previous experience in the federal government and on Capitol Hill, including serving as general counsel to Duckworth and as deputy legislative director to former Senator Danny Akaka (D-Hawaii), CBS News reports.

  • She was also an assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Sen. Duckworth's statement.

Go deeper

Updated Apr 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden accepts Pelosi's invitation to address Congress in late April

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden has accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation to address a joint session of Congress on April 28, the White House confirmed Tuesday night

Why it matters: This will be Biden's first speech to both the House and Senate since taking office.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

California to remove word "alien" from state laws

Gov. Gavin Newsom during a September news conference in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

California is removing the word "alien" from its state laws and replacing it with words such as "noncitizen" and "immigrant," Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced.

Why it matters: The word "alien" began to be used in the 1990s "as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language," per a statement from Newsom's office.

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