Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed cloture on President Biden's nomination of Kiran Ahuja to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management, a procedural step that will likely set up a confirmation vote next week for the nominee Republicans accuse of espousing critical race theory.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has led efforts to try to stop Ahuja's nomination to what had essentially been the federal government's human resources department. He led a group of Republican senators who put a hold on her nomination earlier this month, delaying action on her nomination.
"Senator Hawley has a hold on Kiran Ahuja’s nomination because of her history promoting radical critical race theorists," Hawley's office said at the time. "These associations merit real scrutiny, especially in light of Ms. Ahuja’s nomination to a role that would allow her to reinstate race-based training sessions throughout the entire federal government."
Then this week, the Federal Law Enforement Officers Association came out against Ahuja over her critical race theory history, followed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Association President Larry Cosme said that given the authority Ahuja will have over more than 100,000 members of federal law enforcement, she "should have a past record that shows fairness, equity and sensitivity to everyone."
But, Cosme said, Ahuja's embrace of "'critical race theory' draws a large question as to this nominee’s ability to neutrality, fairness, and impartiality." Cosme called critical race theory "an extremist theory" that "does nothing to draw Americans together."
McConnell said he agrees with Cosme on Ahuja's past espousing critical race theory and will vote against her.
"This is the position responsible for making hiring, payroll, and training decisions that affect millions of federal employees," the minority leader said this week. "The President’s nominee has made statements expressing sympathy for the discredited, ahistorical claims about our nation’s origins that form the backbone of so-called ‘critical race theory.'"
The White House, however, defended Ahuja, who worked in the Office of Personnel Management during the Obama administration and worked on the Biden transition organization's review team for the agency.
"Kiran Ahuja is a qualified, experienced, and dedicated public servant who we are looking forward to leading the Office of Personnel Management in its work protecting the safety of the workforce, empowering federal employees, and building a federal workforce that looks like America," a White House spokesperson told Fox News.
Schumer, D-N.Y., finally filed cloture on Ahuja's nomination Thursday after delaying the effort because some Democratic senators were unable to be at the Capitol.
Among Ahuja's associations that concern Republicans is the fact her nonprofit Philanthropy Northwest once hosted Ibram X. Kendi, an anti-racism activist and advocate for critical race theory, at a 2018 forum.
She also authored a blog post for the group in June 2020 titled "Building an Anti-Racist Future."
"America was built by design. We are dealing with the cost," Ahuja wrote. "We must do everything in our collective power to right historic and present-day injustices so that we build an anti-racist future in service of the Black and Indigenous visions for a world where we can all truly be free."
Ahuja added that "it is my belief that as an individual you can’t be a true ally to Black communities until you take it upon yourself to understand our racialized history in its most intimate and heinous forms — and learn, as I did, that all forms of discrimination flow from the subjugation of Black and Indigenous people."
In her testimony before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Ahuja said that her focus will be "be to protect our merit system principles, a bedrock of our civil service."
"It would be my mission to serve and support federal employees and to restore, rebuild, and retool the federal workforce. OPM will need to innovate to meet the modern needs of agencies with respect to recruitment, hiring, retention, engagement, and performance management," Ahuja added.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Thomas Barrabi and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.