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Biden urged to nominate Julie Su as labor secretary to boost AAPI representation in cabinet

via California Labor and Workforce Development Agency

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    A number of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday, urging him to nominate current Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su as the next labor secretary.

    Representative Judy Chu (D, CA-28), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, headed the letter signed by 34 members of Congress aimed at addressing the lack of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in the current administration’s cabinet.

    In the letter, the lawmakers argued that with Su leading the Department of Labor, she can “build upon the existing successful initiatives of the Department while hitting the ground running on implementing new ones.” They pointed out that Su has a “deep commitment to championing workers’ rights and fair labor practices, as well as advancing equity and opportunities for all workers, including ones from historically underserved communities.”

    The letter also noted that Su’s personal story represents the best of America, as she is the daughter of immigrants who grew up translating for her parents.

    Su, who currently manages the workforce and budget of the department while working with the labor secretary in administrative tasks, is already considered by AAPI lawmakers to be a frontrunner to replace outgoing Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. 

    Prior to joining the federal government, Su served as secretary of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

    Her bid for the post has earned support from union leaders and advocacy groups, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, where she formerly served as litigation director. 

    Su’s supporters anticipate competition from other potential Democratic nominees who are being floated around and opposition from GOP lawmakers who had previously grilled her during her confirmation hearing for deputy labor secretary. 

    The lawmakers have been seeking Su’s nomination as labor secretary back in December 2020, right after Biden won the presidency.

    Biden, who once pledged to have the “most diverse Cabinet in history,” would later spark criticism for appointing the first cabinet in 20 years without an AAPI secretary

    While Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar all serve as cabinet-level officials, they are not actual cabinet secretaries.

    In May 2021, Biden appointed Erika L. Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander senior liaison in response to threats by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to oppose Biden’s “non-diversity” nominees. 


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