Legislative Activity

Opposition to Betsy DeVos Builds

 Joining other professional education associations, the National Association of Secondary School Principals announced in a letter to the Senate HELP Committee that it opposes the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

Senate offices have reported tens of thousands of calls and letters encouraging a no vote on Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have indicated they will vote against confirming Mrs. DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education. However, she only needs 51 votes to be confirmed and Republicans, currently holding 52 seats in the Senate, have given their strong support for Mrs. DeVos. A HELP Committee vote to move forward with her confirmation process is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31.

This Week’s Hearings:

  •  On Tuesday, January 31, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a meeting to vote on committee rules and subcommittee membership during the 115th Congress and to vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Education secretary.
  • On Wednesday, February 1, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing titled, “Rescuing Americans from the Failed Health Care Law and Advancing Patient-Centered Solutions.”
  • On Thursday, February 2, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled, “Helping Students Succeed through the Power of School Choice.”

 Regulatory Updates

 Department of Education Delayed Title IX Investigations List

This week, the Department of Education delayed weekly updated list of colleges under investigation for mishandling sexual assault cases. Under President Obama, the department released the list at the beginning of each week and the delay under the new Trump Administration has worried advocates that there may be less transparency in the new department. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, criticized the department for not releasing the list. The list was ultimately released late on Thursday, January 26 and included two new investigations. Department officials said the delay was a “misunderstanding” due to transition between administrations, but advocates in and out of Congress have indicated they will keep a close eye on the department to ensure all sexual assault cases are handled properly.

Trump Administration Brings on New Education Staff

Josh Venable, top candidate for chief of staff at the Department of Education, has been officially brought over from the transition team. Former Bush and Obama administration staffer Jim Manning, as well as Stanley Buchesky, former venture capital managing partner, were also sworn in last Friday, while the White House works to finalize their job responsibilities. Most surprisingly included in the new education hires is Jason Botel, now a senior White House adviser for education, who donated to former President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and has served in Teach for America, founded KIPP Baltimore, and was most recently executive director of MarylandCAN.

Other staff include the following:

  • Derrick Bolen;
  • Debbie Cox-Roush;
  • Kevin Eck;
  • Holly Ham;
  • Ron Holden;
  • Amy Jones;
  • Andrew Kossack;
  • Cody J. Reynolds;
  • Patrick Shaheen;
  • Eric Ventimiglia;
  • Beatriz Ramos;
  • Jerry Ward; and
  • Patrick Young