Senate Confirms Kiran Ahuja to Lead Office of Personnel Management
Ms. Ahuja returns to the personnel agency where she served as chief of staff during the final two years of the Obama administration.,
The Senate confirms Kiran Ahuja, Biden’s nominee to run the Office of Personnel Management.
- June 22, 2021, 3:28 p.m. ET
Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tiebreaking vote to confirm President Biden’s nominee to run the Office of Personnel Management, Kiran Ahuja, overcoming Republican objections to her nomination that centered on her views on racial justice.
Ms. Ahuja’s confirmation follows a tumultuous period at the federal human resources agency. O.P.M. had five different directors, three of them acting, while President Donald J. Trump was in office, with one of the confirmed directors quitting under pressure from the White House and the other fired by the president.
“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 work force, empowering federal employees, and building a federal work force that looks like America,” said Chris Meager, a White House spokesman.
The unified Republican objections centered on Ms. Ahuja’s remarks last year, when she ran a Seattle-based philanthropic organization, following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“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,” she wrote last June. “And learn, as I did, that all forms of discrimination flow from the subjugation of Black and Indigenous people.”
Before the vote, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, sought to tie Ms. Ahuja to critical race theory — a framework used to look at how racism is woven into seemingly neutral laws and institutions — which Republicans have used as an organizing tool to energize conservative voters during the Biden presidency.
“I’m concerned that as the federal government’s H.R. director, Ms. Ahuja could use her platform to promote radical ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite the American people,” Mr. Hawley said. “She could bring critical race theory back into federal government training.”
Much to the consternation of some conservatives, Mr. Biden on Inauguration Day rescinded a Trump-era executive order that forbade some workplace diversity and training programs for federal employees and contractors.
Ms. Ahuja, an Indian-born immigrant who was raised in Savannah, Ga., worked in the Department of Justice and as the executive director of President Barack Obama’s Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. With her confirmation, Ms. Ahuja returns to the personnel agency where she served as chief of staff during the final two years of Mr. Obama’s administration.