The dust hasn’t even settled over DeVos’ confirmation , but that doesn’t mean House Republicans are done yet.
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie has introduced legislation to abolish the entire department Betsy DeVos will lead. I know this is a somewhat hilarious turn of events, but this isn’t an olive branch. This is a cattle prod. His bill is only a page long, but succinctly states that the Department of Education will terminate on December 31, 2018. It is Massie’s belief that policymakers at the state and local levels should be accountable for education policy, and not the federal agency that’s been in place since 1979. Massie’s reasoning? “Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” Massie said in a statement.
The bill is strikingly similar to proposals former President Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully submitted during his 1980 presidential bid, in which he called for dismantling the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.
Massie is joined by seven other Republicans who signed on to his bill: House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Raúl Labrador (Idaho).
Teachers unions, liberal groups, and even students have protested against DeVos. And again, she’s the perfect example of “pay-for-play” politics.
The only reason to abolish the Department of Education would be to eliminate the budget of the department to save money. Trump has claimed that he wants to fill a $500-billion-plus hole in the federal budget, and part of his plan to get there would be to cut the $67 billion budget of the Department of Education in an effort to play to Trump’s small-government strategy. Even then, the alternative to eliminating this department would be block grants, and to replace it with block grants to the states would require an act of Congress. So, you know, fingers crossed I guess.
Look, Trump and the majority of his team want to dismantle much of the federal government. And yet, that team can’t possibly hope to politically get away with shutting down major agencies or even significantly slashing their budgets, unless they also manage the public reaction to those moves. I know it’s disheartening to think that all the faxes, emails, tweets, letters and phone calls feel like they didn’t work this time. But remember, two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voted against DeVos, citing thousands of calls to their offices from people opposed to her nomination.
So, rage on. If our representatives lack the spines, we got them in spades.