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Sen. Tammy Duckworth addresses reporters last November at the Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Two Democratic senators of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage confronted a senior White House official Monday night over the absence of AAPI representation in President Biden's Cabinet, four Senate aides familiar with the call tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), backed up by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), leveled the complaint to deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon during a Zoom call between the White House and the Senate Democratic Caucus.

  • Hours earlier, Biden finalized the permanent secretaries of the 15 executive departments when the Senate confirmed former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor secretary.
  • Duckworth noted that the Cabinet lacks a single AAPI member, according to four Senate Democratic aides briefed on the call. Hirono backed her up.

Between the lines: The discussion follows last week's mass shooting in Georgia and national calls to address AAPI discrimination, racism and targeting.

  • But from the start of his administration, Biden has faced calls to include more Asian Americans at top levels of his administration, including as Cabinet secretaries.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman, African American and Asian American to hold that position. Biden's U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is also Asian American. The positions are Cabinet-level, but they are not considered Cabinet secretaries.

O’Malley Dillon brought these points up during the call in response to Duckworth’s concerns, and she spoke about the administration’s commitment to fighting hate against the Asian American community, two sources briefed on the call said.

  • She also "reaffirmed that she and the White House are committed to building, engaging a diverse coalition and ensuring it’s represented in government," one of the sources said.

Go deeper: AAPI lawmakers ramp up pressure on Biden to nominate Julie Su for Labor secretary

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Biden backs Gaza ceasefire for first time in call with Netanyahu

Biden with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Debbi Hill/Pool/ Getty Images

President Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call on Thursday evening with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.

Why it matters: This is the first time since the beginning of the crisis last Monday that Biden or anyone in his administration has publicly backed a ceasefire. It will increase pressure on Israel to seek an end to the conflict, which Netanyahu has insisted will continue until Hamas' ability to attack Israel is further degraded.

3 hours ago - World

Schumer: "I want to see a ceasefire"

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Monday he wants to "see a ceasefire reach quickly and mourn the loss of life."

Why it matters: Schumer is a staunch defender of Israel and has maintained that Israel should be able to defend itself.

6 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad

Photo: Ole Spata/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

President Biden will send an additional 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to other countries by the end of June, including shots authorized by the FDA for use in the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Why it matters: It will be the first time the U.S. has sent Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses abroad. The administration previously announced plans to export 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been authorized domestically.