Betsy DeVos Blames 'Snail Mail' for Unanswered Requests From Democrats
During the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on a wide variety of rollbacks, from student loan protections to civil rights. But perhaps her most striking blow to the Trump agenda was reminding DeVos of one reason questions from Democrats at the testimony seemed endless.
"It's been widely reported President Trump's justice department is telling agencies they have the legal authority to ignore written questions and requests for information from Democrats," Murray announced nearly an hour in.
"I'm not going to ask for your opinion on their legal analysis regarding what you're required to do," Murray added. "But given that agencies certainly have the option to respond to inquiries and be transparent above and beyond what President Trump's White House is saying, do you plan to respond to inquiries from Democrats, or just ignore them and only respond to Republicans?"
According to DeVos, the reports were untrue.
"Senator, we have been responding to inquiries," she told Murray. "In fact, I know that you have submitted 23 letters to me since I've been in office, and we've been able to respond to over half of them."
"We are definitely responding to letters as we can," she added. "I really do want to work with you, and we would love to have a conversation—"
"Well, we have not gotten those," Murray cut in. "So, I don't know if your staff is not handing those to you."
Cornered, DeVos continued to dodge.
"Well, that's, I guess, going to snail mail, um, you know," she stammered. "I just encourage you, let's have a phone call."
Murray still wanted to know if DeVos' department would answer the letters. But DeVos still insisted they had.
"We have been responding and we will commit to continuing to respond, but again, I just encourage that we sometimes talk," she said.
To which Murray shot back: "And sometimes it's really helpful to have answers in writing."