Biden’s OPM Nominee Advances from Committee
All Republican senators voted against Kiran Ahuja over her past support of diversity and inclusion programs and abortion rights.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 7-5 on Wednesday to advance the nomination of Kiran Ahuja to serve as the director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Despite a mostly cordial confirmation hearing last week, all Republicans on the committee voted against the former OPM chief of staff, citing her past support for overturning the ban on federal funds going toward abortion services and, while CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, linking to an article written by anti-racism author Ibram Kendi.
“Her previous support of critical race theory is deeply concerning to me, and I think that’s true for a number of my colleagues,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “Our goal should be to promote healing and equality of opportunity, and I believe diversity and inclusion in our workforce is very important, but we need to approach those goals in a way that promotes teamwork and empowering people. And in her role as the leader on government employee benefits, including health care, I’m also concerned about her previous advocacy for ending the Hyde Amendment.”
During her confirmation hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., prodded Ahuja about her opinion of the Trump administration’s effort to excise allegedly “divisive” diversity and inclusion training in the federal government and by federal contractors and questioned why she linked to a 2018 article in The Guardian by Kendi about systemic racism in the United States in a blog post following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota. Ahuja said she did not recall the specific post in question, but said she supports diversity and inclusion programs generally.
Senators also asked Ahuja about how her past support for overturning the Hyde Amendment, which is the long running ban on federal funds being used for abortion services, might impact how she administers the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.
“I understand the role and responsibilities for this position, and I would absolutely follow the law,” Ahuja said last week.
Ahuja’s nomination now heads to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.