WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went before a Senate subcommittee today, to defend the Trump administration’s budget proposal. The proposal cuts education spending by about 13 percent.
President Trump’s budget would reduce education spending by $9 billion.
Secretary DeVos says she wants to give more flexibility to states. But some Senators say they can’t be flexible…without federal money.
DeVos defended the President’s budget plan, saying it cuts money from programs that don’t work.
“The notion that spending more money is going to bring about different results is ill-placed and ill-advised,” DeVos said.
She wants to spend more money on school choice programs like vouchers.
But critics worry programs giving federal money to private schools will open the door to discrimination.
Senator JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR) asked DeVos, “Will such religious discrimination be allowed? Answer the question.”
“Schools that receive federal funds will follow the law. Period,” she answered.
“OK, you’re refusing to answer the question. I think that’s important for the public to know,” Mekley said.
Reporter Jessica Smith asked Merkley about the exchange and he said, “The fact that she refused to answer it, does indicate that she supports allowing these schools to discriminate and still get federal dollars.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a school choice supporter, said he wants to give families more innovative school options. But he wants to make sure that is truly Devos’ goal as well.
He said, “Is that what the budget is built on? Or is this an exercise of trying to extract the federal governement from our schools?”
Senators also wanted to hear about Higher Education.
Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI), said, “I’m afraid the student loan crisis is going to get worse.”
Several, like Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, questioned DeVos on her plans to cut funding for Pell grants, work study programs and public service loan forgiveness.
“The budget really seeks to make college and higher ed options more flexible for students,” DeVos said.
Baldwin answered, “I don’t know how anybody could put together this budget and think they’re making progress on our student debt crisis and college affordability crisis in our country.”
Congress can ignore DeVos’ recommendations if they wish.
The President’s budget is a suggestion, but Congress will come up with its own budget.
Several senators reminded DeVos of that today.