The NARA National Archives and Records Administration, a federal archive agency, has recently been criticized by Republicans for its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. The agency’s 2022 DEI plan emphasizes increasing employee equity training, aiming to attract more minority applicants and leaders while reducing the proportion of white Americans in leadership roles. A 2012 report from the agency defines minorities as those identified as non-white.
Senator Ted Cruz from Texas expressed concerns, stating that NARA’s efforts to establish “safe spaces” conflict with its primary objective of preserving the country’s history. He criticized the agency for focusing on topics like “white privilege” and “systemic racism,” suggesting that federal employees are already aware of these issues.
Cruz further questioned the agency’s claim of being a “nonpartisan, independent” entity, accusing it of leaning towards left-wing ideologies. He emphasized that NARA’s core mission is to safeguard significant documents, like the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cruz also mentioned the need for the agency to prepare for potential congressional subpoenas related to President Joe Biden’s emails.
NARA gained national attention when it alerted the U.S. Department of Justice about former President Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents, which led to his indictment. In its 2022 budget proposal, NARA sought over $28 million and nearly 150 new staff members to promote racial equity and support marginalized communities. A 2021 report from the NARA Task Force on Racism recommended additional training on “white privilege” and addressing offensive behavior among staff.
Virginia Rep. Bob Good criticized NARA’s DEI training, saying the agency should prioritize promoting values from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence over “woke, anti-American ideologies.” It’s noteworthy that NARA had previously retrieved classified documents from both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence. While neither faced charges, NARA did inform the DOJ about both instances.
NARA has been reluctant to release some of President Joe Biden’s records to Congressional investigators. Rep. James Comer, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has been investigating alleged illicit overseas business activities by Hunter Biden and the potential involvement of President Biden. Comer questioned the agency’s political motivations and criticized its potential decision to withhold certain Biden records deemed “personal.” NARA has not commented on its equity policies but has promised to address Comer’s inquiries.