Harris casts tiebreaking vote to confirm OPM nominee

Vice President Harris returned to the Senate chamber on Tuesday to cast a tiebreaking vote, confirming President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE's nominee for the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Senators voted 50-50 along party lines to confirm Kiran Ahuja as OPM director after her confirmation was held up by Senate Republicans over her support for abortion rights and focus on critical race theory.

Harris ultimately sealed the confirmation, stating, "On this vote, the 'yeas' are 50 [and] the 'nays' are 50. The Senate being equally and evenly divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative. The nomination is confirmed ... and the president will immediately be notified of the Senate's action."

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Earlier on Tuesday, Harris cast the tiebreaking vote to advance Ahuja’s nomination after the chamber was again split 50-50 along party lines.

Ahuja, who previously served as chief of staff at OPM under the Obama administration and worked in the Obama White House as executive director of the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, will be the 13th OPM director. She was nominated for the role in February.

The tiebreaking vote was Harris's fourth overall as vice president and second for a Biden nominee.

In April, Harris broke a tie to advance Colin Kahl’s nomination to be under secretary of Defense for policy, sparking a final vote in the full chamber.

Ahuja’s confirmation comes after an effort by Senate Republicans, spearheaded by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyAtlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE (R-Mo.), to hold up her confirmation.

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Hawley, during Ahuja’s confirmation hearing, said he was concerned that the then-nominee would integrate critical race theory into federal directives.

Critical race theory is an academic concept that argues racism is a social construct that influences and is embedded in U.S. legal systems and government policies.

He focused extensively on Ahuja’s support of Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi, whose work has been under scrutiny by conservatives for appearing to advance critical race theory, according to The Washington Post.

Other lawmakers said they were opposed to Ahuja because of her support for abortion rights.

The Senate was scheduled to hold a preliminary vote on Ahuja’s nomination last week, but Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.) ultimately delayed the vote because two Democrats were unable to be present on the floor “because of serious illnesses in their families.”

Schumer did not reveal which members were absent, but Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersHere's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers MORE (D-Mich.) and Cory BookerCory BookerKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE (D-N.J.) both missed an early vote in the Senate that day.

The delay underscored the razor-thin majority in the Senate, where no vote from either party can be spared.