Hawley, GOP senators delay Biden OPM nominee confirmation over critical race theory, abortion stance

The objections from Hawley and other GOP senators effectively blocked a fast confirmation vote

Senate Republicans are delaying confirmation proceedings for Kiran Ahuja, President Biden’s nominee to serve as head of the Office of Personnel Management, amid concerns about her stance on critical race theory and abortion rights.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is leading the effort to hold up Ahuja’s confirmation after previously expressing concern about her viewpoint during her confirmation hearing in April. The objections from Hawley and other GOP senators effectively blocked a fast confirmation vote on Ahuja’s nomination, which will be subject to debate on the Senate floor.

"Beyond just rescinding the Trump administration’s ban on divisive critical race theory trainings, Joe Biden wants to make them a top priority and has selected the CEO of a corporate-funded leftist nonprofit to lead the charge," Hawley said in a statement to Fox News.

"In the course of her career, Kiran Ahuja has embraced and promoted radical racial theorists as ‘thought leaders.’ I’m highly concerned about this politicization of the federal government and cannot stand by as the Biden administration attempts to use taxpayer dollars to divide Americans based on race," he added.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced Ahuja’s nomination in late April in a party-line vote. At the time, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the ranking member on the committee, said he voted against her nomination due to concerns about her "previous support of critical race theory" as well as her pro-choice stance amid calls among progressives to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion services.

The Washington Post was first to report on the delay. 

The White House defended Ahuja’s nomination. 

"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," deputy White House Press Secretary Chris Meagher told the newspaper.

If confirmed as director of the Office of Personnel Management, Ahuja would lead the federal agency responsible for dictating human resources initiatives and personnel policy for federal employees. Biden reinstated diversity and racial sensitivity training by executive order in January, reversing a Trump-era policy that effectively banned training on critical race theory, white privilege and other topics it deemed "divisive."

Kiran Arjandas Ahuja appears before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs nominations hearing, to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington. Featuring: Kiran Arjandas Ahuja Where: Washington, District Of Columbia, United States When: 22 Apr 2021 Credit: POOL via CNP/INSTARimages/Cover Images (Reuters)

Hawley has expressed concern about Kendi’s previous role as CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, a charitable organization that once hosted Ibram X. Kendi, an anti-racism activist and advocate for critical race theory, at a 2018 forum. 

In June 2020, Ahuja wrote a blog post calling for action to free Black, indigenous, gay and transgender Americans from the "daily trials of White supremacy." In the same blog post, she expressed hope that nationwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd would help Americans in "finally coming to terms with our racist history as a country, and addressing it head-on."


Hawley pressed Ahuja on her views during the confirmation hearing in April, at one point asking the nominee if she viewed the United States as a systemically racist country.

"I’m a big believer that we seek to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity," Ahuja said. "I understand and appreciate the historical challenges many individuals have experienced, based on their race and ethnicity."