Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, had her hearing last evening. I saw about half of it.
Senators were limited to five minutes of questioning and one round. This was consistent with the procedure used for both of President Obama’s nominees for this position.
Republicans asked few questions of note during the portions of the hearing I watched. The Democrats mainly wanted to know whether, in effect, DeVos will leave undisturbed the liberal policies of the Obama Education Department — e.g. its stance on how colleges receiving federal money must deal with claims of “sexual assault” on campuses.
DeVos was politely non-committal. She “looks forward to working with” the Senators on this important matter, DeVos kept saying.
The Democrats’ frustration was palpable. They kept seeking more time for questioning. But more time would only have produced more non-commitment.
DeVos tripped up a few times on policy ins-and-outs. Al Franken got her on the distinction between measuring “proficiency” and “growth.” And in response to questions from Tim Kaine, she seemed unaware of federal requirements that states provide services to children with disabilities.
These stumbles enabled the Democrats to push their theme that DeVos — who has no professional experience in public schools, never attended public schools or sent her children to public schools, and has not held public office — is unqualified for the position.
And yes, it prompted Dems to demand more time for questioning the nominee.
I would have liked to heard questions about issues of potential concern to conservatives. Such issues include race-based preferences and common core. (It’s possible that such questions were asked during the portion of the hearing I didn’t catch, but I haven’t reference to them in other reports).
The Washington Post wrote this summary of the DeVos hearing:
Democrats attacked Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s education nominee, calling her unfit for the job during a contentious confirmation hearing Tuesday evening, while Republicans defended her as a bold reformer who would disrupt the status quo in U.S. education.
DeVos’ few stumbles notwithstanding, I don’t agree with the Democrats’ indictment. As to the Republicans defense, the hearing left me undecided.