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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

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

GOP Rep. Clay Higgins says he has COVID for second time

Rep. Clay Higgins during a 2019 House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) Sunday evening that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19 for a second time and "this episode is far more challenging."

Driving the news: "Becca and I had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was," he wrote in a Facebook post, confirming his son also has the coronavirus — which he described as a "biological attack weaponized virus."

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Team USA softball defeats Japan 2-1 in preview of gold medal match

Japan's Yamato Fujita held Team USA without a hit for the first five innings. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Despite failing to get a hit for the first five innings, the U.S. women's Olympic softball team managed to tie Japan in the sixth inning and win 2-1 in the seventh, thanks to a walk-off home run from Kelsey Stewart.

Why it matters: The same two teams, which were undefeated headed into Monday's game, will meet in the gold medal match scheduled for Tuesday evening Tokyo time.

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

📺: The Olympic events to watch today; Olympics opening ceremony ratings plunge

🏊: Athlete spotlight — Katie Ledecky adds to Games career medals haul; Caeleb Dressel leads Team USA to gold.

🏀: U.S. Men's basketball suffers first Olympic loss since 2004

🤖: The robot Olympics

🚨: Heat wave brings scorching temperatures to Tokyo Olympics

🎤: Meet the new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage