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Senate Education Panel Delays Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation Hearing

By Alyson Klein — January 10, 2017 2 min read
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The U.S. Senate Health, Educaton, Labor, and Pensions Committee has rescheduled a confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to lead the Education Department, Betsy DeVos.

The hearing, which was originally slated for Wednesday morning, has been moved to Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m., according to a statement sent late Monday by the panel’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat.

“At the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule, we have agreed to move the nomination hearing of Betsy DeVos,” the pair wrote.

The move comes just days after Murray and other Democrats had requested that the committee delay DeVos’ hearing until after she is cleared by the Office of Government Ethics. DeVos, a billionaire GOP donor and school choice advocate, is one of several Trump nominees who have not yet received a sign-off from the OGE.

“Senator Murray is hopeful that this additional time will allow Ms. DeVos to complete the required ethics paperwork and in time for the Office of Government Ethics to submit it to the HELP Committee before her hearing, just as every single one of President Obama’s nominees did and as Leader McConnell demanded eight years ago,” an aide to Murray said.

Separately, an Alexander aide said, “This will not change our plans to vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos in the [education] committee on Tuesday, January 24th.” The aide added, “Betsy DeVos is an outstanding nominee who has complied with all of the committee’s requirements and no one doubts that she will be confirmed as Education Secretary. This hearing delay is simply to accommodate the Senate schedule.”

On Tuesday, Alexander said DeVos’ hearing was delayed at the request of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Asked if he knew of any problems with the paperwork DeVos submitted to the Office of Government Ethics, Alexander said, “I know of none.”

The ethics office recently sent a letter to Murray saying that nominees should be required to obtain its certification prior to their confirmation hearings, partly to ensure that they will cooperate with the office.

“That leverage is greatly diminished if a hearing is held prior to OGE’s preclearance and subsequent certification,” the letter reads in part. The letter also notes that it can take months to clear very wealthy individuals through the ethics process.

Matt Frendewey, a spokesman for the American Federation for Children, which DeVos chaired until recently, said, “Betsy turned in her paperwork to the Office Government Ethics (OGE) nearly a month ago, she turned in her paperwork to the Senate a day early. She’s ready to have a conversation about making education better any day of the week, whether it is tomorrow or this coming Tuesday.”

DeVos’ nomination has earned plaudits from some GOP policymakers and school choice advocates, but it’s also triggered serious opposition from teachers’ unions, civil rights organizations, and others. More here.

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