Education Secretary DeVos Refuses to Testify Before Oversight Committee

Feb 3, 2020
Press Release
Chooses Campaigning for Trump in Iowa and PA Over Her Obligations to Taxpayers and Congress

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 3, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter warning Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that the Committee may issue a subpoena to compel her testimony following her refusal to appear at a public hearing and instead attend campaign events in Iowa and Pennsylvania this week on behalf of President Trump.

The Committee sent a letter in December 2019 inviting DeVos to testify in January regarding “critical issues facing the Department, including oversight of federal student loans, policies on campus sexual harassment and assault, protections for students at for-profit colleges, the independence of the Department’s Inspector General, compliance with collective bargaining requirements, and other matters.”  The Committee has been investigating many of these issues for months and has made multiple requests for documents that remain unfulfilled to this day.

“In response, your office stonewalled and delayed, refusing for weeks to confirm your attendance or to provide any other possible dates that you would appear,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote.

“Unfortunately, it now appears that rather than agreeing to testify before Congress—which is your obligation as a public servant of the American taxpayers—you made plans to appear at multiple political events for President Trump’s re-election campaign,” the Chairwoman wrote. 

“Instead of testifying before Congress, you are now apparently going to Iowa to campaign on behalf of President Trump today and then to Pennsylvania for another campaign event for him on Wednesday,” she added.

Providing sworn, public testimony before committees of the House and Senate is a core responsibility of cabinet secretaries.  Secretary DeVos’ predecessor, John King, testified at nine different House and Senate hearings in 2016—including before the Oversight Committee.  

“Ignoring—or defying—requests for congressional oversight in order to spend your time campaigning for President Trump is an abuse of your position as Secretary of Education,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney.  “I am not suggesting that you may never campaign for the President, but you may not do so when it interferes with your official duties, including your duty to testify before Congress.  If you will not agree to testify voluntarily, the Committee will have no choice but to consider issuing a subpoena to compel your appearance.”

The Chairwoman’s letter set a new hearing date of March 3, 2020, and gave DeVos until February 7, 2020, to notify the Committee whether she will appear voluntarily on that date or if the Committee will need to consider compulsory process to obtain her testimony.

Click here to read today’s letter.

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Issues: 
116th Congress