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Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said Tuesday they'll no longer oppose President Biden's "non-diversity" nominees after the White House pledged to do more to represent Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in government.

Why it matters: The senators went public with their anger at a lack of AAPI representation after Duckworth said she felt insulted following an earlier meeting with White House officials on the issue.

  • Their opposition could've hurt nominations that didn't have strong bipartisan support.

Driving the news: Hirono on Tuesday night confirmed in a Twitter post a CNN report that the White House will add a senior-level AAPI liaison "who will ensure the community's voice is further represented and heard."

  • "I welcome the appointment of a senior level White House liaison to the AAPI community to further strengthen our voice," she said.
  • "I had a productive conversation with the White House today to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President's cabinet."
  • Duckworth's spokesperson Ben Garmisa said in a statement to news outlets that she "appreciates the Biden administration's assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices" and "will not stand in the way of President Biden's qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders."

The big picture: Lawmakers have been calling on Biden to nominate AAPIs to Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions since last November.

  • The senators' calls came after a year of escalating anti-Asian violence that came to international attention following the shootings this month in Atlanta, Georgia, which killed eight people, including six Asian women.
  • Duckworth said earlier Tuesday that when she raised the issue of AAPI representation, White House deputy chief of staff Jen O'Malley Dillon "the first words out of the staff mouth was: 'We're very proud of Vice President Harris,' which is incredibly insulting," Axios' Alayna Treene and Jonathan Swan first reported.

What they're saying: The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment. But Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement to CBS, "The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country."

  • "That has always been, and remains our goal. The White House will add a senior level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison, who will ensure the community's voice is further represented and heard."  

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.