Vote on DeVos looms as Democrats raise more concerns
Washington — The top Senate education committee Democrat wants to postpone Tuesday’s planned committee vote on the nomination of Michigan’s Betsy DeVos for education secretary, saying Democrats had not received answers to questions they asked of DeVos weeks ago.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State, ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, urged Chairman Lamar Alexander to delay the vote a second time. The committee was originally set to vote Jan. 24.
A spokesman for Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said the answers to Democrats’ 837 questions were delivered mid-morning on Monday, and the vote would take place Tuesday as scheduled.
Murray’s request followed a weekend of protests in DeVos’ hometown of Holland and elsewhere over her selection to head the U.S. Department of Education. Some demonstrations were organized by public school teachers, whose unions have opposed DeVos.
“People across the country have been making their voices heard with serious concerns about the nomination of Betsy DeVos and the impact she would have on their children and schools if confirmed,” Murray said in a statement. “I share their concerns, and I believe there are still many unanswered questions remaining about her tangled finances, potential conflicts of interest, and plans to privatize and defund public education.
“I call on Chairman Alexander to not rush into a vote tomorrow and allow senators on both sides of the aisle the time and information we need to do our jobs for students and parents across the country.”
Murray has also said DeVos hasn’t provided unspecified “missing information” related to the financial paperwork she submitted to the committee.
Alexander last week rejected a formal request from committee Democrats for a second hearing to question the west Michigan businesswoman about her complex financial holdings after DeVos, a billionaire from the Grand Rapids area, finalized her financial disclosure statement and signed an agreement with the Office of Government Ethics.
DeVos, 59, is the GOP mega donor who twice chaired the Michigan Republican Party. Her ethics agreement says she intends to divest within 90 days from 102 companies and holdings that pose potential conflicts of interest.
Democrats were not satisfied last week, sending twoletters urging further disclosures about investments DeVos would retain that could present conflicts, according to Democrats. A DeVos spokesman says she has met all legal requirements to be clear of potential conflicts of interest.
Teachers unions in particular are opposed to DeVos’ nomination, arguing she would undermine the public school system to promote charter, private and other education options. The National Education Association says members and other advocates Vote on DeVos looms as Democrats raise more concerns: