U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is calling on Senate leadership to slow down and allow parents, teachers and students time to reach Senators with their concerns over Education Secretary nominee Betsy Devos before cramming her vote through the Senate. Amid reports of Senate phone lines overwhelmed with calls and constituents unable to get through, Senate Leadership moved unexpectedly yesterday to bring up DeVos' confirmation vote on the Senate floor. Brown and his Democratic colleagues objected to procedural efforts to speed up the DeVos debate, arguing the final vote should not be held until next week at the earliest -- giving constituents more time to reach their Senators and express their concerns.
"When thousands of parents, students and teachers are jamming the phone lines in opposition to Betsy DeVos, the answer isn't to cram her through the Senate, it's to slow down and listen to the people we work for," Brown said.
Brown, announced he would vote against DeVos in January -- citing her longstanding support for for-profit charter schools, which have failed Ohio students and wasted taxpayer dollars. Brown has also repeatedly pressed DeVos to pay an outstanding $5 million fine her political PAC owes the taxpayers of Ohio for breaking election laws. In a response letter to Brown and fellow Senators yesterday, DeVos again refused to take personal responsibility for paying the fine, despite the fact that she founded the PAC, was Chair of the PAC's board at the time it broke the law, and paid for the PAC's legal fees in the matter.
"If Betsy DeVos wants to support education, she should start by paying the $5 million she owes Ohio taxpayers -- that could support nearly 100 more teachers across our state. But ultimately I'm not supporting her because I can't look Ohio parents in the eye and tell them she won't put profits ahead of their children's education," said Brown.