DeVos hedges on banning discrimination against LGBT students

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos clashed with Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday over protections for LGBT students, balking when asked directly if she would ban private schools from receiving federal funds if they discriminate against these students.

Murray and DeVos also had a testy exchange about whether the proposed budget cuts the $15.5 billion Title I program created to help disadvantaged students.

During the almost two-and-a-half-hour hearing, DeVos defended the Trump administration's proposed $9 billion cut to education, saying the planned 13% reduction in funding may seem shocking, but it's necessary.

DeVos said schools that receive federal funds must follow federal laws, but Merkley said federal laws in this area are foggy, referencing the February decision DeVos and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsMueller "won't be surprised" by Comey's testimony: report Comey told Sessions he didn't want to be alone with Trump: report Sessions floated his resignation amid rift with Trump: report MORE made to rescind Obama-era guidance directing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

"That is a matter for the Congress and courts to settle", DeVos said. She also sharply disputed Merkley's characterization of her views, telling the senator, "Discrimination in any form is wrong".

President Trump has said that education is the "civil rights issue of our time". Roy Blunt, of Missouri, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee dealing with education spending, said at the start of the hearing that the cuts laid out in the budget will be hard or even "all but impossible" to accept.

We recently asked you to support our journalism. Merkley pressed, referring to her charter and private school program.

"I am going back to what I said earlier", she claimed.

DeVos said fewer than half of USA students who qualify are using the program.

Last month, DeVos testified before a House appropriations subcommittee and faced a similar line of questioning.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said any agency budget proposal that asks for less money "is a fairly rare conversation around these parts". "I had a great education experience, but my parents in a public school setting had a choice within the district of four high schools I could choose from, and I was allowed to do that", he said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., meanwhile, slammed the proposed elimination of the $2 billion grant program for teacher development and class-size reduction, as well as the $113 million cut to special education and the elimination of the $400 million Title IV block grant for well-rounded education programs.

Her first appearance before Congress came in January for her confirmation hearing, where senators questioned her finances, policy goals and her fitness to serve as Education Secretary. Those account for just some of the proposed budget's $1.4 billion allocation for the expansion of school choice. "I think it's likely that the kinds of cuts that are proposed in this budget will not occur". We are braced for the worst. Secretary DeVos, school choice in the most rural areas of the country, like my home state of Vermont, is simply not feasible when the closest school is an hour away as it is.

And in response to questions from Shelby and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said.

"Right now we have a lot of efforts that really overlap", she said. Roy Blunt said at the onset of the hearing. But he did not comment directly on the $250 million voucher proposal.

  • Larry Hoffman