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Request denied: Republican chairman says ‘no’ to another hearing with Education nominee DeVos

Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be next Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. on January 17. Image via Reuters.

The Democrats’ bid to have a second hearing with Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Education, has been rejected.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Monday said via his spokesman, Taylor Haulsee, that the committee would not hold a second hearing on DeVos.

In an e-mail response to USA Today, Haulsee said DeVos has already met with each committee member in their offices, and has “spent nearly an hour and a half longer in her Senate hearing than either of President Obama’s education secretaries”.

Haulsee added that DeVos is currently answering 837 written questions – 1,397 including all the questions within questions – that Democrat committee members have submitted for her to answer.

He pointed out that for former President Barack Obama’s two nominees, the Republican committee members had collectively submitted only 81 written questions.

In their letter asking for the second hearing, Democrats said that education is too important an issue to “jam a nominee through without sufficient questioning and scrutiny”.

DeVos’ confirmation hearing took place last week with Democrats saying they had been “extremely disappointed” in how the hearing unfolded.

In their letter, they said that “instead of anything approaching an appropriate and reasonable level of robust scrutiny, Democrats were cut off from asking additional questions beyond a single round, which is unprecedented in the Committee”.

Another issue that they had was the fact that DeVos’ 108-page financial holdings report was only filed with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) after her hearing.

“We would like to ask Ms. DeVos additional questions we were prevented from asking this week given we did not know all of the financial and ethical information that has now been shared with us, as well as address additional questions that have arisen from the OGE paperwork,” they wrote.

The vote to determine whether DeVos passes muster was initially scheduled for Tuesday, but has been delayed until next week to allow her time to answer the questions posed to her, especially over her financial connections.

DeVos, 59, was a surprise pick for Education Secretary, mainly due to her lack of professional experience. She has, however, long been a strong advocate of charter schools in her state, Michigan, and is also a proponent of conservative religious values.

During the hearing, Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, grilled DeVos over her affluent background, as well as her lack of knowledge of public schools and federal study loans.

For many, DeVos’ hesitant answers on basic national education policies further showed that she was unsuitable for the role.

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