CAPAC Chair Statement on Lack of AAPI Secretary for First Time in Over 20 Years

Jan 7, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Today, President-elect Joe Biden announced the final nominations for his Cabinet, confirming that for the first time in over two decades there will not be an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Cabinet Secretary serving in a presidential administration. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), who recently led a letter signed by over 115 Members of the U.S. House and Senate urging Biden to nominate an AAPI Cabinet Secretary, issued the following statement:

“The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus looks forward to working with all of President-elect Biden’s Cabinet designees, and I want to personally congratulate Merrick Garland, Marty Walsh, Gina Raimondo, and Isabel Guzman, who were named today to fill the remaining Cabinet vacancies. Despite the diversity amongst these Cabinets selections, we are deeply disappointed by the decision to exclude AAPIs from the 15 Cabinet Secretary positions who oversee executive departments in our government. The glaring omission of an AAPI Cabinet Secretary in the self-declared ‘most diverse Cabinet in history’ is not lost on us and sends a demoralizing message to our nation’s fastest growing racial group and voting bloc that AAPIs do not need to be counted the same way as other key constituency groups.

“It is undeniable that there were eminently qualified AAPI candidates like Julie Su who would have made excellent Cabinet Secretaries. The choice to not name a single AAPI Cabinet Secretary, even after over 115 Members of the House and Senate urged President-elect Biden to do so, is historic in its consequence as Joe Biden’s administration will be the first to not include an AAPI Cabinet Secretary since 2000. For too long, AAPIs have been left out of significant policy conversations and decisions. And now, even as our communities suffer disproportionately from the Coronavirus pandemic, it is incredibly disheartening to not have an equal seat at the most important policy making table in the country.

“However, given the horrific domestic terrorist attack we witnessed yesterday due to Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine our democracy, it is more important now than ever that we work together to heal the division in our nation and build our country back better than before. In the weeks and months ahead, we will need to stand unified in our efforts to contain the coronavirus crisis, restore the Voting Rights Act, and tackle critical priorities like comprehensive immigration reform. Therefore, it will be important that AAPIs have a seat at the table where critical decisions are being made. This includes ensuring that AAPIs are reflected in important positions throughout the administration, including as the heads of non-Cabinet agencies, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, White House personnel, and key boards, commissions, and ambassadorships that will help to build a stronger AAPI pipeline within the federal government to ensure that our community is represented at the highest levels.”