Senator Kaine to oppose DeVos nomination for Secretary of Education
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tim Kaine (D – Virginia) said he would not support Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.
“She failed to meet three requirements I consider essential to serving as Secretary of Education – someone who is pro-public schools, pro-accountability and pro-civil rights,” Sen. Kaine in a statement that explained his decision to oppose the DeVos nomination. “Mrs. DeVos has said that public schools are a ‘dead end’ and that ‘government really sucks’ when it comes to education. This statement betrays the commitment of thousands of public school teachers who work hard every day in our public schools, many in tough working conditions, to ensure our children are educated.”
This week Sen. Lamar Alexander rejected a Democrat’s request for a second hearing with DeVos, sparing her from what would surely be a contentious hearing.
Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, traded letters with Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat, who requested a second hearing for DeVos after all of her paperwork was approved by the Office of Government Ethics.
Even pro-Trump Republicans conceded that DeVos’ delivered a lackluster performance in her confirmation hearing, where the Michigan Republican seemed unaware of certain federal education laws, argued that her decades in the leadership of her mother’s foundation was a “clerical error” and appeared confused by certain teaching concepts when pushed by Democratic senators.
Democrats also pushed DeVos about her desire to push for more access to charter, home, and religious schools as Secretary of Education.
The hearing led many Democrats to believe that DeVos, a woman who straddles two immensely wealthy and politically active Republican families, could be their best chance to thwart a Trump cabinet nominee from getting approved.
“I have carefully considered the request and decided not to schedule a second hearing, and here is why: Already Mrs. DeVos has spent considerably more time answering questions of committee members than either of President Obama’s education secretaries,” Alexander wrote in his letter to Murray. “I do not know why our committee should treat a Republican nominee so differently than the nominee of a Democratic president.”
Like several of Trump’s Cabinet picks, DeVos has tremendous wealth. Forbes estimates DeVos and her husband, Dick, are worth upwards of $5 billion. She has also donated to at least four of the senators who heard her testimony on Tuesday.
She has also given millions to groups that advocate for school privatization and voucher programs, including the American Federation for Children, a group she chaired from 2009 to 2016.
DeVos’ conflict of interest paperwork is complicated because of her wealth and the Office of Government Ethics had not approved her paperwork before her confirmation hearing. The government ethics office approved her paperwork last week, however, leading Senate Democrats to argue they deserve another round of questioning now that her paperwork is available.
Even without that extra round of questioning, Sen Kaine made his choice clear.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a Secretary of Education who will champion our public schools, support equal accountability for all schools receiving taxpayer funding, and support the national consensus that kids with disabilities should have fair learning opportunities. I’m disappointed President Trump didn’t nominate such a champion,” Sen. Kaine said.