Legislative Activity

Secretary DeVos to Testify on Budget

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor-Health and Human Services and Education on June 6. She will face tough questions from Democrats on the proposed 13 percent budget cut and school choice measures proposed in President Trump’s budget.

Senator Patty Murray Questions Ethics Official

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to the Department of Education’s ethics official questioning a decision to allow Secretary DeVos to speak at the American Federation for Children’s (AFC) national summit in May. Secretary DeVos formerly served as chairwoman of AFC, which advocates for tax credit scholarships and vouchers. Earlier this year, she signed an ethics agreement saying that for a period of one year following her resignation from the organization and its charitable arm, “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which I know that entity is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate.”

Sen. Murray notes in her letter that between 2005 and 2015, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation “donated at least $600,000 to AFC and other related organizations.” She questioned when the Department’s ethics official was approached about the summit and wants to see their analysis as to why Secretary DeVos’ appearance did not present “the appearance of or an actual conflict of interest.” Murray also wants to know whether Secretary DeVos has received any ethics waivers since her confirmation. The letter can be found here.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Launches DeVos Watch Site

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has added a new page to her website, dedicated to holding Secretary Betsy DeVos “accountable to the public.” So far, what Warren is calling “DeVos Watch” is just a list of partisan press releases, a comment form for submitting “whistleblower tips” to the Senator about student loan issues, and links for submitting complaints about student loans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state attorneys general.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, June 6, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Review of the FY2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Education.” The witness will be:
    • The Honorable Betsy DeVos, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Regulatory Activity

New Hires at the Department of Education

Secretary DeVos formally announced four new Education Department hires late Wednesday, May 31. They include Kathleen Smith, as a senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education and will be acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education; Steven Menashi, who has been appointed deputy general counsel for postsecondary service and has been delegated the authority to perform the duties of the general counsel; Nathan Bailey , who will serve as communications director with the authority to perform the duties of the assistant secretary for communications and outreach; and José Viana, who will serve as assistant deputy secretary and director of the Office of English Language Acquisition.