March 07, 2017

Warren, Sanders, Casey, Baldwin, Franken, Hassan and Murphy Ask Alexander for HELP Committee Hearings on Education Department Nominees

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today sent a letter asking asking Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to hold hearings prior to any committee votes on President Trump's nominees for critical posts at the Department of Education (ED).

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made clear during her confirmation hearings that she would rely heavily on other appointees to drive policy and oversight in a number of crucial areas, particularly higher education. Based on this testimony, the senators are requesting hearings on a number of subcabinet-level posts at ED, including the Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary, General Counsel, and Assistant Secretaries with authority over policy, civil rights, and postsecondary education.

"We have a solemn duty to our constituents, to our fellow Senators, and to the country to ensure that experienced and qualified experts are guiding and executing our nation's higher education policy, and we look forward to evaluating these candidates in a public forum before the American people," wrote the senators.

The HELP Committee has historically held selective hearings on subcabinet-level appointees under both Democratic and Republican Senate control and presidents. "There is a uniquely strong case for holding hearings for President Trump's subcabinet-level Department of Education nominees," the senators state.

The letter continues, "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 distributed 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."

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.