Society

GOP Lawmaker: Dismantle The Department of Education

| by Robert Fowler

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky has introduced a bill calling for the dismantling of the Department of Education (DoED). Massie's legislation arrived on the same day that Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in the confirmation for the new Secretary of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos.

On Feb. 7, Massie introduced legislation calling for the DoED to be abolished. The document is only one page in length and calls for the DoED to be dismantled on Dec. 31, 2018, The Hill reports.

The DoED was established in 1980 by former President Jimmy Carter. Republicans have historically been hostile toward the department: Former President Ronald Reagan had unsuccessfully attempted to have it abolished.

Massie released a statement asserting that education should be decided by U.S. localities with no federal oversight.

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"Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children's intellectual and moral development," Massie said. "States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meets the needs of their students."

Massie's legislation has been co-signed by seven of his GOP colleagues: Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Justin Amash of Michigan, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jody Hice of Georgia, Walter Jones of North Carolina and Raul Labrador of Idaho.

Massie has previously supported dismantling other federal departments. On Feb. 3, the Kentucky lawmaker signed on to a bill calling for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authored by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the Courier-Journal reports.

"The constitution reserves lawmaking authority for the legislative branch, not unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch," Massie said in a statement. "The EPA makes rules that undermine the voice of the American people and threaten jobs in Kentucky."

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The same day that Massie introduced his bill to kill the DoEd, Michigan-based billionaire DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. Her appointment was one of the most contested in U.S. history, with Pence's deciding vote marking the first time that a vice president has had to break a tie for a Cabinet nominee.

Democrats had unanimously opposed DeVos' nomination, asserting that her advocacy for diverting federal money toward vouchers for private and religious schools will drain public education funding. On Feb. 6, Senate Democrats began a 24-hour filibuster against DeVos' confirmation vote, urging one more Republican lawmaker to vote against her.

Senate Republicans defended DeVos, who has no experience in the public school education system, as a fresh perspective who will help broaden school choice for low-income students. Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, one of DeVos' fiercest critics, asserted that the billionaire's performance during her confirmation hearing should have been disqualifying, The New York Times reports.

"It was the most embarrassing confirmation hearing that I have ever seen," Franken said shortly before the confirmation vote was held. "If we cannot set aside party loyalty long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the president's nominees, what are we even doing here?"

If Massie’s bill is signed into law, then DeVos’ new appointment will be short-lived.

Sources: Courier-JournalThe Hill, The New York Times / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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