Betsy DeVos likely to be confirmed Secretary of Education this Wednesday without vetting, in violation of Senate protocol… Call your Senators today!

As I understand it, the confirmation hearing for Amway billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, will likely begin in the Senate this Wednesday, in spite of the fact that the bipartisan Office of Government Ethics, which is responsible for vetting Cabinet nominees, has yet to conduct a thorough investigation into her finances. This, according to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the ethics office, who sent a letter to Senate Democrats on Saturday telling them of Republican plans to pursue Cabinet hearings without proper vetting, is apparently a violation of precedent that goes back decades.

As you may recall, at the start of the Obama’s first term, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, whose party was then in the minority, wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanding that, before any Cabinet nominees could be considered, “financial disclosures must be complete.” The following, about McConnell’s 209 letter, comes by way of Think Progress.

…In his letter, McConnell wrote that his party’s duty to “conduct the appropriate review” of presidential nominations, “consistent with the long standing and best practices of committees, regardless of which party is in the majority,” was one it took seriously. “These best practices serve the Senate well,” he added, “and we will insist on their fair and consistent application.” The then-Senate Minority Leader called the financial disclosure process and other ethical steps essential “to fairly review a nominee’s record and to make an informed decision prior to a vote”…

Well, now that McConnell’s party is in the majority, it would seem that such “best practices” are no longer necessary. When asked about his party’s desire to push Cabinet nominations through over the complaints of Democrats on Face the Nation this morning, McConnell said that Democrats should stop making “procedural complaints” and “grow up.”

It’s worth noting that today is January 8, and McConnell’s letter above, demanding more time for vetting, was sent to Reid on February 12. So, in 2009, the Republicans had already had over a month to vet Obama’s nominees, when they wrote to demand more time. Here, though, we’re told that Democrats should just “grow up” when they request that even the most basic investigations be conducted prior to the inauguration by the bipartisan Office of Government Ethics, an office which, by the way, Republicans attempted to gut just a few weeks ago. It would seem, however, things are different now that Republicans have public schools to close and teachers unions to destroy.

For what it’s worth, it would appear as though DeVos’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will likely go in her favor, as Republicans control the committee, and she only needs a simple majority to be confirmed. Still, though, a few Senators have already come out against her, like Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, who said a few days ago, after meeting with DeVos, “Our conversation reaffirmed my strong concerns about her nomination.” Stabenow then went on to say, “Betsy DeVos and her family have a long record of pushing policies that I believe have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children. Therefore, I cannot support (her).”

stabenow2

[If you’d like to thank Senator Stabenow for taking a stand on behalf of America’s children, you can do so here.]

There are a lot of truly terrible nominees that are going to be considered over the coming weeks, but this one is on us, Michigan. DeVos is someone who we know, and it’s incumbent on us to make sure the world knows what she did to Michigan, and what she’s likely to do to public education across the United States if given the opportunity. So, if you haven’t already, please read my last post about DeVos, share it with everyone you know, and ask them to call their Senators and demand that they vote against her…. or, at the very least, delay her confirmation hearing long enough to give the ethics office enough time to look into the pyramid scheme from which she draws her wealth.

update: Please keep calling, but word just came down that DeVos’s confirmation hearing, which had been scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 AM in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has been postponed by a week due to pressure from the left. [Maybe those 41 questions posed by Warren spooked them.] Here’s a clip from the Washington Post.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.

DeVos’s hearing, originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning, has been rescheduled for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m., according to a joint statement from the HELP committee chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and ranking member, Patty Murray (D-Wash).

The move comes after Democrats raised concerns about the fact that the Office of Government Ethics, which has said it is overwhelmed by vetting Trump’s nominees, has not yet completed its review of DeVos’s financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest…

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7 Comments

  1. Demetrius
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    If ever there was a time for Democrats to show some “backbone,” this is it.

    The president-elect is still refusing to share his tax returns – something every other presidential candidate in recent memory has done, and something he himself promised to to *after* he was elected.

    Meanwhile, the incoming administration is rushing cabinet nominees through confirmation hearings, even though officials have not yet had time to conduct proper background screenings, and many nominees have failed to provide required disclosures and affidavits.

    Rather than “grow up,” Democrats need to take a much harder line. Though not yet even in office, Republican leaders are already demonstrating a willful disregard for the law, and for standard procedures that have been developed to protect citizens and the government – and cabinet officials themselves – from conflicts of interest.

    If they are already thumbing their noses at “normal” laws and rules, what are the next four years going to bring?!

    Rather than merely complaining, or threatening to vote against them, Democrats on these committees need to stand up and (very publicly) walk out together if they try to push through premature hearings on these confirmations.

    They need to send a signal to the public that Trump and his supporters (and they alone) “own” this lawless behavior.

  2. Lynne
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Yup. Calling senators this morning

  3. Gillian
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    FYI Senator Debbie Stabenow has already announced publicly that she will oppose DeVos’ nomination, so when you call her be sure to say thank you for her opposition and let her know that you’re counting on her to continue opposing the Trump agenda for the next four years.

    http://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/05/debbie-stabenow-betsy-devos-education-secretary/96212040/

  4. Gillian
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    oh duh, you said that… anyway it’s a good start ;)

  5. Stefanie Stauffer
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Not to mention DeVos’s brother is Erik Prince, of Blackwater private mercenary infamy (& questionable ethics).

    http://m.democracynow.org/stories/16062

  6. Citywatch
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    There has to be opposition other than a “no” vote. Voting at all says that they think the process is acceptable!! I believe the way these confirmations are being conducted is not just against tradition and custom, they violate the written rules for this process, the laws our congress wrote for themselves to ensure the proper vetting of candidates. I would support those who oppose this flagrant and illegal process on both sides of the aisle to get up and walk out instead of breaking their own vows, rules and laws. This is just the beginning and if there are not dramatic consequences for these types of actions, they will multiply and lawlessness will continue according to the whim of the Trump administration. What is wrong with a congressperson saying ” I excused myself from being a part of an illegal process”?

  7. Rat
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Well, now I know why they wanted to get rid of the ethics office.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] how I was telling you yesterday that Republicans in Congress were rushing to get Trump’s Cabinet nominees through their confirmatio…? Well, I just received a note from my aunt in Washington, D.C., who wanted to share the following […]

  2. […] it’s not just Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow that’s decided to come out aggressively against Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for […]

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