Dec. 9 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Katherine Tai, the Democratic Party's top trade lawyer in the House Ways and Means Committee, as U.S. trade representative, according to reports.
If confirmed by Congress, Tai will be responsible for ensuring that foreign states abide by U.S. trade rules, negotiating a new trade deal with China amid a protracted trade war and repairing relationships with allies that have soured under the Trump administration.
Her appointment would also make her the first woman of color and the first Asian American to sit lead at the negotiating table for U.S. trade interests, and comes amid a greater push by the Biden-Harris transition team to form a more diverse cabinet than seen in previous administrations.
The president-elect has already tapped several people of color and women for top positions, including retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III to lead the Pentagon, current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the Health and Human Services Department and Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury, among others.
All three nominations, if confirmed, would represent firsts for their departments: The first Black American to head the Department of Defense, the first Latino to head the HHS and the first woman to top the Treasury.
Tai, who is fluent in Mandarin, was named lead advisor to the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means in 2017. She also worked as chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement from 2007 to 2011, according to a short biography of her experience on the website of the U.S.-China Business Council.
News of her nomination follows 10 female House Democrats telling Biden in a November letter that Tai's work ensuring Democratic demands were included in President Donald Trump's North America trade deal "makes her uniquely qualified" for the job.
On Nov. 21, The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus urged Biden in a statement to appoint Asian American and Pacific Islanders to his cabinet to ensure they account for at least 7% of its body as they are 7% of the U.S. population while being the fastest-growing racial group in the nation.
Democratic Reps. Judy Chu and Bonamici Praise, two women who signed the letter to Biden in November, praised the nomination in a joint statement.
"Katherine Tai is immensely qualified to be our next trade ambassador," said Praise. "Her diplomatic skills and subject matter expertise have earned her the respect of Congress, labor and environmental leaders, and the trade community at large."
Chu, who chairs the CAPAC, said if confirmed, Tai would accomplish all of Biden's promises of building a government that prioritizes expertise while reflecting those it governs.
"I'm thrilled to hear reports that Katherine Tai will be nominated to be our next U.S. trade representative. From our work together on Ways and Means, I have seen firsthand Ms. Tai's skill and experience with trade deals and have been impressed by her work on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as well as her vast knowledge of the current and coming trade challenges," Chu said.
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