Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has spearheaded GOP concerns about Kiran Ahuja, the president’s OPM pick who Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., filed cloture on last week. That is likely to set up a procedural vote on her nomination this week, which will indicate whether Ahuja has the support to be confirmed on a final vote.
Hawley said earlier this month that Ahuja “has embraced and promoted radical racial theorists as ‘thought leaders.’ I’m highly concerned about this politicization of the federal government.” But with Democrats in control of the Senate, Ahuja’s nomination is still moving ahead, and she is likely to be installed as the OPM director by the end of the week.
Ahuja made it out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) on a party-line vote in April. That means Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, voted against Ahuja, eliminating two possible swing votes that would almost certainly guarantee her confirmation.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., meanwhile, voted yes on advancing Ahuja from the committee, meaning the two moderates who could kill her nomination appear to be sticking with Democrats.
This leaves unaccounted for a few bipartisan-minded Republicans and moderate Democrats.
That group includes Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Richard Burr, R-N.C. – none of whom returned requests for comment from Fox News about how they plan to vote on Ahuja’s nomination.
Democrats have largely stuck with the president on his nominees except in rare cases like the failed nomination of Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget, and that was largely because of her history of caustic tweets against senators. Moderate Republicans have tended to follow the lead of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who came out against Ahuja last week.
“This is the position responsible for making hiring, payroll and training decisions that affect millions of federal employees,” McConnell said last 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.'”
“One major organization of federal employees expressed its concern about the nominee’s capacity for, quote, ‘neutrality, fairness and impartiality,'” McConnell continued. “I share those concerns, and will be voting against the Ahuja nomination.”