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 DeVosBetsy DeVosMnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book Republicans look to education as winning issue after Virginia successes McAuliffe rolls out new ad hitting back at Youngkin on education 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 PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous 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 TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves 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 SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary 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.”