White House names Erika Moritsugu as Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison

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Monica Alba and Dartunorro Clark
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The White House on Wednesday announced the appointment of Erika Moritsugu as its Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison.

Moritsugu was a vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, heading up the group’s Economic Justice team. She was also an assistant secretary of housing and urban development during the Obama administration.

IMAGE: Erika Moritsugu (Courtesy National Partnership for Women & Families)
IMAGE: Erika Moritsugu (Courtesy National Partnership for Women & Families)

CBS News first reported the news.

Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, criticized the administration last month for a lack of Asian American and Pacific Islander representation. Both lawmakers had threatened to block President Joe Biden's nominees, but they reversed course after they got reassurances from the administration. The country is also grappling with a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

“I applaud President Biden for swiftly addressing my concerns and creating a new senior-level AAPI liaison position at the White House," Duckworth said in a statement Wednesday. "I know first-hand that President Biden will benefit from her counsel, policy expertise and strong relationship-building skills, especially as his Administration seeks to make sure AAPI leaders are present at the highest levels of government."

Moritsugu previously worked with Duckworth on Capitol Hill as her general counsel.

Biden is expected to meet Thursday with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the White House. Moritsugu is not expected to attend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when she was asked about the potential for an announcement at Wednesday's briefing.

"We are getting much closer to having news to share on that high-level personnel announcement. I don't expect that person will be attending tomorrow, but hopefully we'll have more to share soon," she said.