Wasserman Schultz: DeVos Is an 'Enemy' of Public Schools

January 31, 2017

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.)  told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday that President Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is an "enemy" of public schools.

Wasserman Schultz began the interview by praising Sally Yates, the acting U.S. attorney general who was fired by Trump on Monday night for refusing to enforce his recent executive order on immigration. The Florida Democrat echoed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and called Yates a "profile of courage," adding that she did exactly what she said she would do.

Bartiromo pushed back against Wasserman Schultz and said that Yates never communicated privately with Trump her concerns with the executive order and instead ordered government lawyers at the Justice Department not to defend it.

Later in the interview, Bartiromo pointed out that former President Obama had 14 Cabinet nominees confirmed after his first week in office compared to Trump's 4 nominees confirmed. She then told Wasserman Schultz that this is "obstructionism" by Democrats.

"Maria, when you nominate people who are wholly unqualified like Betsy DeVos as secretary of education," Wasserman Schultz said.

"She is not wholly unqualified," Bartiromo shot back.

"Oh yeah she is. Not only has she never taught in  public school, never attended public school, and is an enemy of the public schools. That is the last person on Earth who –" Wasserman Schultz said.

Bartiromo tried to further defend DeVos by talking about her plans to incorporate school choice in education policy to make poor schools better, but Wasserman Schultz disagreed.

"No, what she's doing as she has done for her own career is trying to dismantle the public schools, and she performed awfully during her confirmation hearing," Wasserman Schultz said. "She did even know what the IDA Act was. She had no idea how to answer the questions about what her policies would be related to students with disabilities and how she would make sure that they could get equal access to education."

Bartiromo said she was not there to defend Trump's nominees but was curious why Senate Democrats were stalling Trump's nomination picks.

"You don't think the United States Senate, Democrats or Republicans, should appropriately review the president's nominees, ask them questions, make sure that they get the answers that they need to make a decision. That's what the Founding Fathers put in the Constitution. They are not a rubber stamp," Wasserman Schultz said.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, or HELP, approved DeVos's nomination on Tuesday morning, the Hill reported.

DeVos was confirmed 12-11 along party lines. Her nomination will now go to the Senate floor, where she'll need only need a simple majority to be confirmed as the secretary of Education.

The billionaire GOP donor faced a contentious hearing earlier this month when Senate Democrats questioned her commitment to public education and grilled her on her conflicts of interest.


Democrats repeatedly asked for a second round of questioning at her hearing, but HELP Committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) denied the request and only gave himself and Murray additional time.

Senate Democrats pushed for a second hearing, writing in a letter to Alexander that they were "extremely disappointed" by the first one. The Tennessee Republican rejected holding another hearing.