Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, were joined today by several of their Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan questioning the Department of Education's involvement in implementing ObamaCare.
The senators write: "While we understand that the effects of the President's health care law will be felt by parents, teachers, and their families, we are unfamiliar with how the Department of Education's involvement in implementation will further the mission of educating our nation's students."
This is one of many agencies outside of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury that, according to recent news reports, intend to promote ObamaCare, an effort outside their missions.
Joining Thune and Alexander in their letter were Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
The senators' letter is below:
July 16, 2013
The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, Southwest
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan:
We write to express concern with a recent announcement you made regarding the relationship between the U.S. Department of Education and the implementation of the President's health care law. During a recent interview with Lois Romano of POLITICO, you stated that the Department of Education will be assisting with the dissemination of information. Additionally, you indicated that there is a team at the Department of Education currently helping with implementation.
While we understand that the effects of the President's health care law will be felt by parents, teachers, and their families, we are unfamiliar with how the Department of Education's involvement in implementation will further the mission of educating our nation's students. To better understand the statutory authority, cost, and scope of the activities the Department of Education has taken, please provide a detailed response to the following questions:
How much is the Department of Education spending this fiscal year to further the implementation of the President's health care law, and how much does the Department of Education anticipate spending in each fiscal year from 2014 to 2017? What specific appropriation accounts and programs are being used?
If the Department of Education is receiving these funds through the Department of Health and Human Services, what instructions were included with this funding and how many Department of Education employees will be dedicated to this effort?
How are the actions by the Department of Education different from those taken by the Department of Health and Human Services? Have you coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure your efforts are not duplicative?
What authority does the Department of Education have to disseminate information and assist with the implementation of the President's health care law?
How do the Department of Education's activities further the education of our nation's students?
What specific actions are you asking schools to take without additional federal resources? How does that not constitute an unfunded mandate?
In addition to these questions, we request that you please provide a detailed plan of your current and future involvement with the implementation of the President's health care law by July 30, 2013.