Tom Cotton Grills Biden Nuclear Nominee Jill Hruby on Incorporating Critical Race Theory at Sandia Labs

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Biden nominee Jill Hruby at a Senate hearing Thursday did not deny she incorporated critical race theory training at Sandia National Laboratories, where she served as director from 2015 to 2017, and asserted it was not divisive.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked National Nuclear Security Administration director nominee Jill Hruby, “What was your involvement in the incorporation of critical race theory or diversity, equity, and inclusion training at the Sandia National Labs?”

Hruby responded, “I am a strong believer in diversity, equity, and inclusion training for our workforce, and in fact, study after study shows that the culture of institutions is why we lose top talent, and particularly women and people of color.”

“So my first statement is I’m a strong supporter and have benefitted greatly personally and been part of an institution that’s benefitted greatly from diversity, equity, and inclusion training,” she said.

“The issues with the Sandia divisive training occurred after I left the laboratory, and I understand it has been reviewed and if confirmed I look forward to evaluating those reviews, and make sure we have high quality training programs that continue into the future,” she added.

Cotton then said he has heard from concerned former lab employees who said there were “controversial training regimens” conducted under her watch. “Did you direct or participate in any of what you just called ‘divisive training sessions’?”

Hruby admitted, “I did participate in diversity, equity, and inclusion training at the laboratories. The training that I participated in I never considered divisive, nor did I hear that from any employee that participated in the training at the laboratory while I was there.”

Cotton asked her if she had ever participated in any training that instructed white employees to “deconstruct their white culture or apologize for any bigotries or prejudices that they did not commit.”

Hruby responded, “No senator. The classes did explore privilege but in my opinion, they never were divisive or asked inappropriate questions of, or apologies of the white workforce.”

Cotton asked Hruby if she believed that any race is inherently prejudiced, bigoted, or oppressed, or if she believed that any race is inherently victimized or oppressed. She responded to both, “No sir.”

Cotton asked her if she saw any danger in “telling highly-skilled technicians who control one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the world that they are working for a country whose roots are founded on systemic racism.”

“No I don’t,” she responded. “But I do think we need to be open to the issues that exist and that the cultures that exist that don’t allow us to fully utilize all Americans in our science and technology enterprise.”

However, she did say that she did not think America was a “fundamentally racist country,” and that if she is confirmed, she would want to make sure all of the training is “high quality.”

Cotton said he hoped that highly-trained professionals at NNSA would not be subjected to this “foolish kind of training” that teaches them that America is fundamentally a hateful country.