February 7, 2017

Whitehouse Statement on DeVos Confirmation

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, issued the following statement today on the Senate’s 51-50 vote to confirm Elisabeth DeVos to be Secretary of Education:

“Vice President Pence’s trip down Pennsylvania Avenue today shows just how hard Republicans have had to work to stack and jam President Trump’s underqualified and conflicted nominees through the Senate. 

“Mrs. DeVos had every opportunity to make a convincing case to be Secretary of Education.  But, over the course of her confirmation process, she demonstrated a startling lack of understanding of fundamental education issues and laws, including those about students with disabilities, school safety, protecting civil rights, and how to measure success in education.  As far as I can tell, she has very few ideas at all for improving American higher education.

“I also remain frustrated by her refusal to come clean about her ties to dark money political groups that hide the identity of their  donors.  My colleagues and I asked Mrs. DeVos for basic detail about these financial relationships to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.  Her answers were spectacularly incomplete, unresponsive, and unhelpful.  She left concerns unanswered about her continued financial stake in education-related businesses that could come before the Department under her watch.  Potentially serious conflicts of interest remain obscured.

“Betsy DeVos certainly did not inspire confidence in the thousands of Rhode Islanders who called, wrote, or emailed me to say she doesn’t share their vision for our students.  In addition to my concerns about her potential conflicts, my vote reflects Rhode Island’s virtually united voice of opposition to this nomination.”


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