The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.
DeVos’s hearing, originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning, has been rescheduled for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m., according to a joint statement from the HELP committee chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and ranking member, Patty Murray (D-Wash).
The move comes after Democrats raised concerns about the fact that the Office of Government Ethics, which has said it is overwhelmed by vetting Trump’s nominees, has not yet completed its review of DeVos’s financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest.
Alexander and Murray did not mention those concerns in a joint statement announcing the postponement. They said the change in timing came “at the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule.”
Wednesday had been shaping up to be a packed day on Capitol Hill with a total of five confirmation hearings. And on the same day, Trump is scheduled to give a news conference in New York, his first in months.
DeVos is a Michigan billionaire who has spent much of her energy and political contributions working to promote charter schools in her home state and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools around the country.
Alexander said in a statement to The Washington Post that the delay in DeVos’s hearing would not change the committee’s plans to vote on her nomination on Jan. 24.
“Betsy DeVos is an outstanding nominee who has complied with all of the committee’s requirements and no one doubts that she will be confirmed as Education Secretary,” an aide to Alexander said. “This hearing delay is simply to accommodate the Senate schedule.”
An aide to Murray said the senator hopes the delay will allow DeVos to fully take part in an ethics review ahead of the confirmation hearing: “Senator Murray is hopeful that this additional time will allow Ms. DeVos to complete the required ethics paperwork in time for the Office of Government Ethics to submit it to the HELP Committee before her hearing, just as every single one of President Obama’s nominees did and as Leader McConnell demanded eight years ago.”
In 2009, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose party was then in the minority, said in a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Republicans expected all nominees to turn in their ethics paperwork prior to their confirmation hearings. McConnell aides have emphasized that the letter was sent after the majority of President Obama’s Cabinet was confirmed.