Yesterday, Republican congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced a bill to abolish the Department of Education, ironically on the very same day that Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Department’s new secretary.
On February 7th, Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote that led to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of the Department of Education. Pence’s vote marked the first time in American political history that a vice president had intervened to break a tie regarding the Senate confirmation for a Cabinet nominee and was the first vice-presidential tie-breaking vote since 2008. DeVos had faced stern opposition from Senate Democrats as well as teachers union and other groups for a variety of reasons, chief among them her alleged favoritism of private and charter schools over their public counterparts.
Despite all the difficulty in confirming DeVos as the Department of Education’s new secretary, she may not have a job for long if some Republicans in Congress get their way. Ironically, on the very same day as DeVos’ confirmation, Republican congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 899, a bill with the sole intention of eliminating the entire Department that DeVos is set to run. Arguably one of the more succinct bills in the Congressional history, the bill consists of a single sentence reading: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
Though the bill is very straightforward, the press release regarding the bill’s introduction offered more information and background on why Massie, along with the bill’s seven other Republican sponsors, are seeking to eliminate the Department of Education.
According to the press release, Massie argued that:
“Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn. Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students.”
A large part of the impulse behind the bill seems to be a strong dissatisfaction with Common Core. Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that “Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level.” Other co-sponsors of the bill include Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Justin Amash (R-MI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Jody Hice (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Raúl Labrador (R-ID).
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