After 2 senators threatened to withhold votes in support of nominees, the Biden administration pledges increased Asian Americans representation

Maroosha MuzaffarWed, 24 March 2021, 5:43 am

<p>File photo: Bernie Sanders, in an interview, has said that he isn’t comfortable with the Twitter ban on former US President Donald Trump</p> (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
File photo: Bernie Sanders, in an interview, has said that he isn’t comfortable with the Twitter ban on former US President Donald Trump(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

US senator Bernie Sanders has said he doesn’t feel “particularly comfortable” with the permanent Twitter ban on former president Donald Trump because he does not like a “handful of high-tech people” having that kind of power.

Speaking to journalist Ezra Klein of the New York Times, senator Sanders called Trump a “racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law.”

He, however, added, “if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”

The Vermont senator admitted that he did not immediately have a concrete solution for how to balance censorship with affirmative action against online hate.

“I don’t know what the answer is. Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories travelling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection if you like? No, you don’t. So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about.”

“Yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view,” he said.

During the interview for the podcast “The Ezra Klein Show,” which the New York Times called an “unusually optimistic conversation,” Mr Sanders revealed that he doesn’t like giving that much power to a “handful of high-tech people.”

Twitter had repeatedly flagged several tweets of the former president but banned him after the January 6 Capitol riots due to “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

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Mr Trump sees this as a “favour” by Twitter.

Speaking to Newsmax, the former president expressed no regret in losing access to Twitter and his 90 million followers. His 2020 campaign manager Jason Miller recently said that Mr Trump would be “setting up an alternative social media platform that would completely redefine the game,” reports said.

Mr Trump was also banned from other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

In a series of tweets, the Twitter CEO had said that banning Trump from the platform was the “right move for the social network.” He added: “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”

Mr Sanders also spoke about cancel culture, the filibuster, Rescue Act, tech companies and other issues.

The Hill reported that senator Sanders has regularly clashed with tech companies and their policies. Speaking about Amazon’s Alabama warehouse workers unionising efforts, he said: “I invited Jeff Bezos to attend the hearing to tell me why a guy who was worth $182 billion thinks he has to spend millions of dollars to fight workers who are trying to form a union to improve their wages and working conditions.”

He added, “we need to pass legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions. Because if workers are in unions and can negotiate decent contracts, their wages will go up. Their working conditions and their benefits will improve. So we are working hard on that issue, and something I know the House has passed. I want to see it passed here in the Senate as well.”Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.Business Insider

After 2 senators threatened to withhold votes in support of nominees, the Biden administration pledges increased Asian Americans representation

Julie GersteinWed, 24 March 2021, 5:51 am

en. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks during a Senate Democrats' news conference
Tammy Duckworth told reporters she would be a “no vote on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees” unless Biden pledged increased representation of the AAPI community. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
  • Sens. Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth successfully lobbied the White House for increased AAPI representation.
  • The pair threatened to withhold votes in support of Cabinet nominees unless Biden made changes.
  • The White House said it would add a senior-level AAPI liaison.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden administration says it will appoint an Asian American Pacific Islander liaison after Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono decried the lack of AAPI representation at the highest levels of government and threatened to block future administration nominees unless Biden pledged more representation.

Duckworth, of Illinois, and Hirono, of Hawaii, are the only two AAPI members of the Senate and had been raising the issue of representation for months but had been met with little support, according to The New York Times,

During a tense call on Monday night with the White House, Duckworth was told by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon that Vice President Kamala Harris was proof enough of high-level AAPI representation, according to CNN.

Duckworth called Dillon’s comments “insulting.”

“To be told that you have Kamala Harris, we are very proud of her, you don’t need anybody else, is insulting,” Duckworth told reporters following the meeting. “That’s not something you would say to the Black caucus – that you have Kamala – we’re not going to be putting any African Americans in the Cabinet – why would you say that to AAPIs?”

Duckworth added that until the White House “can call me and tell me what the proposal is,” she would be a “no vote on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees.”

Hirono echoed Duckworth’s sentiments.

“Tammy’s position is that until she gets a commitment from the White House that there will be more diversity representation in the Cabinet and senior White House advisory positions, she will not vote to confirm anyone who does not represent diversity,” Hirono told MSNBC. “This is not about pitting one diversity group against another. I think this is a well-articulated, focused position. I am prepared to join her in that.”

The Asian Pacific American Caucus had previously applauded the confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General and Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative, but Hirono and Duckworth questioned why there are no AAPI members in top leadership roles in Biden’s Cabinet.

With the Senate currently split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, Duckworth and Hirono’s support for Biden nominations is crucial.

On Tuesday, the White House spoke privately with Hirono and Duckworth. Following the conversation, both women reversed course.

Ben Garmisa, a spokesperson for Duckworth, said the senator appreciated “assurances” that the Biden administration would “do more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government” and that Duckworth “will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees – which will include more AAPI leaders.”

Hirono said on Twitter that after a “productive” and “private” conversation with the White House, she would “continue voting to confirm the historic and highly qualified nominees President Biden has appointed to serve in his administration.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement to the Times on Tuesday night that “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.”

“The president has made it clear that his administration will reflect the diversity of the country. That has always been, and remains, our goal,” she continued.

The White House’s announcement comes amid a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US believed to be related to unfounded COVID-19 conspiracies. Last year, Hirono, along with several other AAPI members of Congress, introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act which would allocate Department of Justice resources toward reviewing hate crimes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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