DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools

DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan DeVos family of Michigan ends support for Amash The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE announced Monday her agency will no longer enforce a federal provision that prohibits religious organizations from giving private schools federally funded services.

The decision is in response to a 2017 Supreme Court verdict that found that Missouri unconstitutionally denied a church-run preschool publicly funded tire scraps for its playground.

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“The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion,” DeVos said in a statement. “Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization.”

She added that a federal law overseeing all elementary, middle and high schools that mandates students receive “equitable services” unconstitutionally bars contractors from having affiliations with religious organization. The Education Department will still enforce the other provisions of the law. 

DeVos sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks MORE (D-Calif.) outlining her conclusion.

“House Democrats are carefully reviewing the legality of the administration’s new policy,” Joshua Weisz, a spokesman for the House Education Committee, told The New York Times.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE has actively sought to extend religious liberty protections to church groups whose public activities have been regulated in the past. Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAmash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE issued guidance in 2017 to other Cabinet secretaries saying that laws “must not discriminate against religious organizations in their contracting or grant-making activities.” 

“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming.”