The confirmation hearing for billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos, picked to head the US Department of Education, kicked off Tuesday, featuring contentious questioning and partisan debate from Senate Democrats.
DeVos was grilled on a number of issues, oftentimes demurring on answers, or stating she was currently unable to provide a response.
On the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, for example, DeVos provided a noncommittal answer when asked if she would uphold the current federal Title IX guidance if she is confirmed.
“I know that there is a lot of conflicting ideas and opinions around that guidance, and if confirmed I would look forward to working with you and your colleagues and understand the range of opinions,” she said.
Here’s her answer on Title IX:
In an exchange with Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), when asked if guns have any place in schools, DeVos responded that the question was best left to states to decide. Murphy pushed on with questioning and DeVos responded with a reference to the probable need for gun protection from grizzly bears in a Wyoming school.
“I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wyoming,” DeVos said. “I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.”
Here’s her answer on guns:
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine had a tense exchange with DeVos over the issue of school accountability. Kaine asked whether all taxpayer-funded schools — regardless of the distinction between public, charter, or private — should be subject to the same accountability.
DeVos would only respond, “I support accountability,” frustrating Kaine and leading to the following exchange:
Kaine: Do you not want to answer my question?
DeVos: I support accountability.
Kaine: OK, let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree with me or not?
DeVos: Well they don’t. They are not today.
Kaine: Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me or not?
DeVos: Well no…
Kaine: You don’t agree with me — let me move to my next question.
Here’s her answer on accountability: