King to oppose DeVos for Education secretary

King to oppose DeVos for Education secretary
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (I-Maine) said Tuesday he plans to oppose President Trump’s nominee to lead the Education Department, citing Betsy DeVos’s perceived lack of support for public schools.

“To say she’s a proponent of school choice is an understatement,” King said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald.

“Her whole career has been school choice to the exclusion of the basic public education system, and I am just such a firm believer in public education that I can’t go that far," he said.


King said he was a “product of public schools” and acknowledged there were flaws in the system.

“Nobody argues that the public education system is prefect or can’t be improved, and I think that’s where the emphasis should be,” he said.

“My dad used to say that public schools are the idea at the heart of democracy," King said. "I would hate to depart from that in a wholesale fashion, which is what she seems to intend to do.”

Democrats had requested a second hearing for DeVos, though the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions rejected the request.

Democrats sent a letter to committee chairman Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.) requesting time to further scrutinize DeVos on any potential conflicts of interests.

"We believe it is our job as Senators to question nominees, fully explore their record, and understand, on behalf of our constituents, the positions they will take at the agencies," the letter said.

"Last week, however, instead of anything approaching an appropriate and reasonable level of robust scrutiny, Democrats were cut off from asking additional questions beyond a single round, which is unprecedented in the Committee."

The HELP panel will hold an executive session Jan. 31 to vote on DeVos's nomination.

King said in Tuesday's interview he would, however, be supporting Trump’s picks for Transportation and United Nations ambassador, Elaine Chao and Nikki Haley, respectively.

Haley was easily confirmed by the Senate to serve as Trump's U.N. ambassador on Tuesday night.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Tuesday endorsed Chao’s nomination to lead the Transportation Department, sending it to the full Senate floor for a vote.