One of the most infuriating moments from Betsy DeVos’ hearing is republican Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy’s line of questioning. He asked exceptionally vague questions with the expectation that DeVos’ answers were as equally vague. The main point of any public nominee hearing is for the public to get a taste of what a nominee is capable of through thoughtful and prudent questions from senators.
This Washington Post article explains why Cassidy didn’t care to ask a more serious, challenging, and engaged set of questions that can provide his constituents in Louisiana with beneficial insight into the capabilities of the potential head of the federal Department of Education. We need to realize that the HELP Committee is voting on behalf of their states and the United States as a whole. So the committee’s questions should elicit and demand more than surface level answers from DeVos. Even if Senator Cassidy knew he was going to vote for her because his education policy initiatives align with DeVos’, the hearing wasn’t about what Cassidy wanted; it was for the benefit of the tens of millions of people who have never heard of DeVos and who don’t know or understand her initiatives. So what’s Cassidy’s issue? Aside from taking a brief moment to ask DeVos about the highly important and laudable topic of dyslexia and disability protections, why did he waste his precious, public five minutes of conversation with DeVos that illlustrated only DeVos’ ability to say yes or no to very broad questions?
Senator Bernie Sanders later points out the DeVos and her family have donated more than $200 million to members of the Republican Party who push the same philosophies as the DeVos’. With that said, it’s no surprise that Cassidy, spreading charter schools and vouchers wherever possible in Louisiana (but especially in New Orleans), received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from DeVos or her family members in the last three years. 4 out of the other 12 republican senators on the HELP Committee are in a similar position. Why this isn’t a conflict of interest is beyond me.
In addition to all democrats voting against DeVos, we need three republicans to vote against her as well. Hopefully, republicans will take her poor performance, as noted in my last post, when voting tomorrow.