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Analysis: Questions grow about discrimination's role in the hurdles Biden's nominees are facing

February 27, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 18.4%. 2 min read.

Representative Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico and secretary of the interior nominee for US President Joe Biden, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger / various sources / AFP) (Photo by SARAH SILBIGER/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden succeeded in nominating the most racially diverse slate of Cabinet nominees in history. But now the slow and contentious process of getting some of his top picks confirmed is leading progressive groups to question whether his nominees of color are facing a higher level of scrutiny than White male nominees of past administrations.

But now the slow and contentious process of getting some of his top picks confirmed is leading progressive groups to question whether his nominees of color are facing a higher level of scrutiny than White male nominees of past administrations.

But while GOP senators have raised legitimate ideological and policy concerns about some of the nominees whose confirmations are in question, the language that has been used to criticize them has, at times, made the critiques seem personal while playing on racial and gender stereotypes.

During one eyebrow-raising exchange about Haaland's past criticism of fossil fuels, Barrasso questioned the nominee about her past statement that taxes on sales of legalized marijuana could ultimately replace some of the oil and gas royalties that help fund public schools: "We know what your stance is on replacing the revenue from the energy jobs," he said to her.

"The nominees of color who have a track record of being advocates for the community -- Xavier Becerra, Vanita Gupta, Kristen Clarke, and you can include Neera Tanden in that group -- seem to be being subjected to extraordinary analysis, scrutiny and treatment," Morial said.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS, said she was troubled by what she views as coded language questioning whether nominees like Becerra or Haaland have the right experience, when she views their credentials as impeccable.

"We're just seeing a lot of effort here to target certain nominees who happen to be women, people of color or the daughters or sons of immigrants -- and it just smacks of a different standard and makes you question whether there is something deeper going on here," Murguía said.

Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, said there will have to be a great deal more analysis before anyone can draw empirical conclusions about whether Biden's nominees of color are facing a harsher level of scrutiny than their White peers in past years.

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