HELP Committee won't hold second hearing for DeVos

HELP Committee won't hold second hearing for DeVos
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions won't hold a second hearing on Betsy DeVos, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE's nominee for Education secretary.

"The committee will not be holding a second hearing on the Education Secretary nominee," an aide to committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal Congress needs to wake up to nuclear security threat MORE (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.

"Betsy DeVos has already met with each committee member in their offices, spent nearly an hour and a half longer in her Senate hearing than either of President Obama’s education secretaries, and is now answering 837 written questions — 1,397 including all the questions within a question — that Democrats have submitted for her to answer."

The statement was a response to a letter sent to Alexander by Senate Democrats requesting that the committee hold a second confirmation hearing for DeVos.

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In the letter, Senate Democrats wrote that they were "extremely disappointed" by what happened at DeVos's first hearing last week. 

"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 letter said education is "too important an issue" and the Education secretary is "too important a position for the country and for this Committee, to jam a nominee through without sufficient questioning and scrutiny."

“This is not about politics, it should not be about partisanship — it should be about doing the work we were elected by our states to do to ask questions of nominees on behalf of the people we represent," the letter said.

Those who signed the letter included 10 Democrats and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man My fellow Democrats should watch their language: Economic equality is not a rational societal goal As Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural MORE (I-Vt.).

Last week, it was announced that an executive session for the committee voting on DeVos was postponed by one week. The committee vote on DeVos is now scheduled for Jan. 31.

The delay is meant to give members time to review DeVos's letter to the Office of Government Ethics outlining steps she agreed to take to avoid conflicts of interests.