Vote on Education Secretary Delayed Until Next Tuesday

A vote on Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Department of Education (ED) secretary, has been delayed a week so that senators can review her investments and government ethics paperwork. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will now vote at 10 a.m. Jan. 31, rather than tomorrow, Jan. 24.

HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s office said in a statement that the postponement was intended “to give each senator time to review the agreement letter” from DeVos regarding her conflicts of interest. Her ethics paperwork was not finalized and submitted until Friday.

DeVos has agreed to divest from 102 companies and investment funds to avoid potential conflicts of interest if her nomination were to be approved. This would include cutting her financial ties to several education-related companies, as well as a debt-collection agency that collects student loans on behalf of the ED, her financial disclosure statement says.

Democrats have criticized DeVos on her confirmation hearings thus far. She appeared confused that there was a federal law covering students with disabilities, and surprised Democratic senators — and many teachers and observers on social media — when she said that a remote rural school in Wyoming might need guns on campus “to protect from potential grizzlies.”

DeVos is also an outspoken critic of public schools and supports private and charter schools as an alternative.

One new potential conflict could be DeVos’ decision to maintain her multimillion-dollar investment in Neurocore, a Michigan-based biofeedback company that aims to help children with ADHD, autism, depression and other afflictions do better in school.

Richard W. Painter, an ethics adviser under President George W. Bush, told The New York Times that DeVos’ stake in Neurocore “is not an appropriate investment for the secretary of Education.

DeVos is still expected to win confirmation for the ED secretary post. She only needs a simple majority of senators to support her. If all 52 Republicans vote yes, she will be confirmed.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].