Josh Hawley Leads Hold on Joe Biden’s OPM Nominee over Seeming Embrace of Critical Race Theory

Kiran Ahuja, the nominee to be Office of Personnel Management Director, speaks at a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hybrid nominations hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Kiran Ahuja, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is not undergoing a swift confirmation process due to Republicans voicing concerns over her vehement support of Critical Race Theory (CRT) — a far-left ideological concept emphasizing racial divisions in the country, which conservatives warn teaches people to “judge individuals based on sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

 Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is leading the delay in Ahuja’s confirmation, expressing concerns over her seeming embrace of Critical Race Theory and her promotion of radical thought leaders.

“Senator Hawley has a hold on Kiran Ahuja’s nomination because of her history promoting radical critical race theorists,” Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

“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,” Ford continued.

“Democrats sought to fast-track a vote, but Senator Hawley believes adequate debate time and full Senate consideration is needed for this nominee,” she added.

One such concern is Ahuja’s embrace of radical critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi.

During a line of questioning in April, Hawley asked Ahuja, the former CEO Of Philanthropy Northwest, about her decision to invoke the work of Kendi. Specifically, the senator asked about her endorsement of his article, in which Kendi claimed former President Trump’s 2016 election victory served as an example of “racist progress.”

Ahuja dodged the question, telling the senator that she worked with Kendi, with him speaking at events where they promoted “greater conversation around issues of racial equity and equality.”

“I don’t know specificities to that statement, but he’s been within the philanthropic space a thought leader around how to think about issues of achieving greater equity,” she said.

Again, Hawley asked her if she agreed with his statement — that the election of Trump served as an example of racist progress.

“I have not made any of those types of statements about the election,” she said, adding that she could not speak to the position that Kendi made.

Again, Hawley emphasized he was asking for her own opinion, given her endorsement of Kendi’s article.

“I do not recall this article that you are referring to, unfortunately, but I would not make those types of statements no,” she finally replied.

Hawley also asked the nominee if she believes if the country is systemically racist, and she did not answer the question directly.

“I understand and appreciate also that historical challenges that have — many individuals have experienced based on their race or ethnicity, and I think it’s important that we have that understanding in addressing problems and inequities,” she replied.

“And so having very tailored approaches, that’s the work we did in the philanthropic space was to understand the experience of indigenous peoples especially in the northwest, what are the type of solutions that our funders may want to, you know, think about as far as supporting those communities, and so on,” she added.

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Overall, Republicans are concerned that she, as OPM Director, would be able to reinstate CRT training throughout the entire federal government. This is an agenda item highlighted by President Biden in March:

Moving forward, OPM will play a critical leadership role in the Administration’s governmentwide efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) and we encourage all agencies to continue DEIA activities which include training and educating your workforce.

But the concerns do not end with Ahuja’s embrace of Kendi. She also endorsed the protests that dominated the country last year, expressing hope that the protests “signal not only shifting winds but finally coming to terms with our racist history as a country, and addressing it head-on.”

“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,” she wrote in the June 3, 2020, post:

I didn’t always have the words, and sometimes I’m at a loss even today. But 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

She also recommended donating bail to a bail fund, the Northwest Community Bail Fund, which explicitly endorsed defunding the police.

Additionally, her nonprofit is backed by major corporate donors and has links to “woke” philanthropists and liberal dark money groups including Arabella Advisors, the Ford Foundation, and The Gates Foundation.

The debate surrounding Ahuja’s and her seeming embrace of Critical Race Theory comes as Republicans step up to prevent the ideology from being advanced at various levels in the country. The Georgia Board of Education, for example, recently adopted a resolution banning “both the teaching of tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and ‘action’ or ‘protest’ civics in the state’s public schools,” as Breitbart News reported.

On Monday, Sens. Rick Scott, (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced a resolution condemning CRT in K-12 schools, describing it as a “prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool.”

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