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Confirmation hearing delayed for Donald Trump's Education pick

Filed Under: Education | National | Politics
More on: 115th, betsy devos, donald trump, ed, essa, nclb, patty murray, senate
     
   

Betsy DeVos is Republican president-elect Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Education. Photo: greatagain.gov

The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education has been delayed until next week.

DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, was scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Wednesday morning. But the hearing has been pushed to January 17 amid concerns about Trump's nominees being rushed through the Senate.

The Office of Government Ethics has yet to complete its review of DeVos, according to a letter sent on Monday to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), the top Democrat on the committee. The letter didn't mention DeVos by name but it was clear it was written in reference to "an intended nominee of the President-elect."

If confirmed to lead the Department of Education, DeVos would play a big role in influencing Indian programs. The overwhelming majority of American Indian and Alaska Native students attend public schools.

The Office of Indian Education falls within the department and is responsible for carrying out Indian programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A new version of the law, dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act, replaces the No Child Left Behind Act and calls for greater tribal participation in the public school system.

The department is also responsible for doling out funds under the Impact Aid Program. Public schools on or near reservations receive the money to address the lack of a tax base in Indian Country.

DeVos doesn't have any experience in Indian issues but has been a champion of vouchers, which some some Republicans have embraced as a way to improve achievement levels within the Bureau of Indian Education. Tribal organizations and Democrats strongly oppose the idea because it would draw money away from underfunded schools.

The BIE, which is operated separately from the public system, falls within the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. Trump's Interior nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana), will go before the Senate for his confirmation hearing on January 17.

Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States on January 20.

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