Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s pick for education secretary, fielded Senate questions from both sides during her confirmation hearing Tuesday — which to the frustration of parents and politicians, did not confirm much. The billionaire activist pledged to only take a $1 salary to make the position “official” — a move that would make Bob Barker proud. But for some Senators, not so much.
Things kicked off with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) calling DeVos a champion for low-income children who don’t have access to great schools, along with a few other Republican Senators praising the candidate as an agent of change. DeVos’s platform is centered on giving parents choices when it comes to their kids’ school, like offering charter schools as an alternative to failing public schools. Hey, who doesn’t love a good charter school? (Answer: People who believe in public education.)
America also found out that DeVos believes states should be mostly in charge of everything, from executing this ambitious plan to enforcing civil rights for children with disabilities, which has the potential to be messier than a kindergarten art class. This state-by-state stance carried over into gun control when she cited protection from “potential grizzlies” as a reason guns may belong in schools — literally the right to bear arms.
Gun control advocate Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) who represents parents who lost children the Sandy Hook shooting, challenged her vague support of banning gun-free zones in schools. And Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was particularly pissed about the 5-minute time limit put on their rounds of questioning for DeVos. In other words, he doesn’t think she’s good enough, smart enough, or doggone it, people like her.
But the biggest issue holding up DeVos confirmation is the fact that the Office Of Government Ethics hasn’t finished reviewing her vast financial investments and potential conflicts of interest, which she promised would be resolved. Despite the fact that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who serves as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor And Pensions (HELP) Committee, believes DeVos is an “excellent choice,” he said that they will not vote until the ethics office is done vetting her. To be fair, that department has probably been swamped lately. This might take a while.
[H/T] The Washington Post