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Confirmation Hearing For Betsy DeVos, Trump's Education Pick, Delayed A Week

Betsy DeVos, picked by President-elect Donald Trump for education secretary, speaks during the USA Thank You Tour last month in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Don Emmert
AFP/Getty Images
Betsy DeVos, picked by President-elect Donald Trump for education secretary, speaks during the USA Thank You Tour last month in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, the billionaire philanthropist who is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of education, has been delayed for almost a week.

DeVos' hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, but late on Monday night, the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions announced it had been delayed until Jan. 17, next Tuesday.

The move comes after Democrats had raised concerns about the wealthy philanthropist's incomplete financial disclosures and unfinished ethics review, as Politico reported last week. The top Democrat on the HELP committee asked for a rescheduled hearing, saying she was concerned about "extensive financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest," Politico says.

DeVos submitted her financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics last month but has not yet finalized or signed the paperwork, Politico reported Friday.

The Washington Post reports that DeVos' "vast wealth and considerable financial holdings have overwhelmed the bipartisan Office of Government Ethics," which vets Cabinet nominees. The office has not finished examining DeVos' investments for possible ethical concerns, the newspaper reported Saturday.

But in announcing the delay, the HELP committee made no reference to concerns over conflicts of interest. Instead, the committee said the delay was "at the request of Senate leadership to accommodate Senate schedule."

DeVos is a "strong supporter of school choice" with "limited experience with public education," as NPR's Eric Westervelt has reported:

"DeVos, 58, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and helped push a failed 2000 ballot proposal to amend the Michigan state Constitution to create a voucher system for students to attend nonpublic schools.

"DeVos is chairman of The Windquest Group, a Michigan-based investment management company. She is married to billionaire Richard DeVos Jr., the son of Richard DeVos, who co-founded the home care products company Amway.

" ... Largely unknown outside of Michigan political and philanthropic circles, her appointment signals that Trump intends to make school choice anda voucher plan for low-income families a centerpiece of his education agenda.

"School choice plans are controversial because in some cases they can allow families to use public funding for private schools. Critics say choice plans undermine public education, are often underregulated and can amount to profiteering."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.