Sen. Joe Donnelly to oppose Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education

INDIANAPOLIS -- U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) will oppose President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

A statement from Donnelly released Wednesday said he, "carefully reviewed her record and qualifications as well as her Senate committee confirmation hearing."

“After reviewing her record, I share the concerns expressed by many Hoosier educators, students, and families that Betsy DeVos lacks the commitment to public education needed to effectively lead the Department of Education," Donnelly said. "I am concerned she will not prioritize efforts that are important to Hoosier families, like: expanding access to early childhood education, improving our public schools, and empowering student borrowers and reducing federal student loan debt."

DeVos' confirmation hearing was contentious at times when she was interviewed by Senate Democrats. 

READ | Trump education pick painted by Dems as unqualified

When she was questioned by Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, DeVos declined to answer whether she believed in applying the same standards to public, charter and private schools.

"I support accountability," DeVos said four times. When asked directly if she declined to answer the question, DeVos simply said: "I support accountability."

She was also pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on her lack of experience in financial aid or higher education.

Republicans seemed satisfied with DeVos' answers.

PREVIOUS | Democrats leave DeVos hearing with more questions than answers

"You came into my office, and before I ever asked a question, in several minutes, you convinced me that you were passionate about making sure that every child had a chance at a successful education," Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said.

DeVos has been a major funder of Indiana's school voucher movement. Her family has given millions of dollars to the American Federation for Children, which has then donated money to proponents of voucher programs.

RELATED | Betsy DeVos has been major donor in Indiana school voucher push

Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will vote on DeVos' nomination on Jan. 31. If a majority vote in her favor, the nomination then moves to the floor of the Senate.

Sen. Donnelly will not be able to vote on DeVos' nomination in committee because he does not sit on the panel. He will be able to vote if DeVos' nomination moves to the full Senate.

"While I will vote against [DeVos'] nomination, I will continue fighting for our students because ensuring they have access to good schools and teachers not only lays a solid foundation for our students to reach their potential, but also helps increase economic opportunity,” Donnelly said. 

Donnelly did support of two of Trump's other nominees -- retired-General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, and retired-General John Kelly for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) has not made a statement on his vote for DeVos. A spokesperson said he'll do so at a later date. Young is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, so he'll vote on Jan. 31.
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