Democrats Seek Hearings on Education Appointees

Inside Higher Ed

 March 7, 2017
Democrats on the Senate education committee have requested that chairman Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, hold additional hearings on subcabinet-level appointees at the Department of Education.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has selectively held hearings for such posts in the past, the Democrats wrote in a letter to Alexander. And they say there is a “uniquely strong case” for hearings now because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos indicated in her confirmation process that she would rely to a large degree on department staff in shaping higher education policy.

“Secretary DeVos’s inexperience requires that we ensure subcabinet-level appointees — especially those with influence over the $150 billion in grants and loans that the federal government distributes annually to schools and students and the federal government’s $1 trillion student loan program — have the knowledge, experience and willingness to administer critical student aid programs and execute established federal policy,” the Democrats wrote.

The letter was signed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan as well as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent.