Dem senator: I hope DeVos 'gets a handle' on school safety commission

Dem senator: I hope DeVos 'gets a handle' on school safety commission
© Greg Nash

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Trump health official defends funding shifts to pay for detained migrant children Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (D-Wash.) on Tuesday sharply criticized Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosSupport for educational choice continues to grow Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges Sessions: DOJ concerned about suppression of free speech on college campuses MORE following a meeting, calling the administration's recently formed commission on school safety "a tool for continued distraction" from changes to federal gun laws.

“I am hoping that Secretary DeVos gets a handle on this issue and changes her tune, but based on this meeting today, I have no confidence that this commission will be anything other than a tool for continued distraction and delay,” Murray said in a statement.

Murray serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. She said she met Tuesday afternoon with DeVos, who chairs the federal commission on school safety unveiled by the White House earlier this week.

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The White House on Sunday announced its plan to "harden" schools in the wake of a Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. The announcement did not include any federal gun law proposals, but established a panel to assess best practices for improving school safety.

Murray said DeVos did not express interest Tuesday in addressing gun safety policies like universal background checks or raising the minimum age requirement to purchase a rifle. 

“Everything I heard from [DeVos] in our conversation suggested that this is just the latest effort to delay and shift the conversation away from the gun safety reforms that people across the country are demanding,” Murray said.

Murray also said that DeVos told her that only federal officials would be part of the panel.

The White House said Sunday the panel would include federal, local and school officials.

President Trump's Education secretary said Monday that "everything is on the table" for the commission, and called for a “broader” approach to the debate over gun laws and school safety following the Florida shooting. 

“There are many things that have driven this issue in the first place and we have to go back to the beginning and talk about how these violent acts are even occurring,” DeVos said.