IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Asian Pacific American Caucus puts new pressure on Biden for labor secretary pick

The congressional group is backing Julie Su, who would be the first Asian American to serve as a Cabinet secretary in the Biden administration if nominated and confirmed.
Julie Su during her confirmation hearing in Washington on March 16, 2021.
Julie Su during her confirmation hearing in Washington in 2021. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is ramping up pressure on President Joe Biden to diversify his Cabinet by picking Julie Su to replace Labor Secretary Marty Walsh when he departs next month.

Caucus chair Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., on Friday sent a letter to Biden signed by 33 lawmakers urging Biden to back Su, who is now deputy labor secretary, for the department's top post. If nominated and confirmed, Su would be the first Asian American to serve as a Cabinet secretary in the Biden administration.

The push to nominate Su was backed by nearly half of the caucus' 68 congressional members, including four senators, and comes a day after Walsh announced he would be stepping down in mid-March to take a job as executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

"Deputy Secretary Su is a strong woman of color who is eminently qualified to take on the responsibility as U.S. Secretary of Labor and would deliver results for American workers and your administration immediately upon her confirmation," the lawmakers wrote.

"Her voice and perspective would be invaluable to the Administration, especially as there is no Secretary-level Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) official currently serving in your Cabinet."

Su was confirmed by the Senate for her current post in a 50-47 vote.

Congressional Democrats, however, have not coalesced behind Su. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been making calls on behalf of former New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for labor secretary. NBC News reported last week that Pelosi has been urging the White House and labor leaders to support Maloney, according to two sources familiar with the calls.

Friday’s letter pushing for Su’s nomination is not the first time the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has pressed Biden on Cabinet secretary positions.

In December 2020, the caucus said that Biden's administration was shaping up to be "the first time in over two decades" that there wouldn't be an AAPI Cabinet secretary. "Let us be clear: that outcome is unacceptable," the caucus said in a statement at the time.

Biden later nominated Katherine Tai for the Cabinet-level post of U.S. trade representative. She's the first Asian American, and first woman of color, confirmed by the Senate to hold the position.