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Portman defends vote for DeVos

Saying some information was overlooked in controversial appointment

Immediately after the 51-50 Senate confirmation vote of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R.) today issued a statement defending his yes vote, saying some information was overlooked in the controversial appointment.

Trump-Education-Secretary-DeVos-and-Portman

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, left, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, right.

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“An important fact that has been missed in the debate over her nomination is that she strongly supports local control of education and has pledged not to impose her own views on states and local school districts, but rather to allow them — along with parents — to make the decisions that best fit the needs of their children. She has also pledged to implement the laws as Congress intended them,” Mr. Portman said, according to the statement released by his Washington office.

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He said that Mrs. DeVos, of Grand Rapids, Mich., “is the daughter of a public school teacher.”

“I support her for the role of Secretary of Education because she has made clear in her response to questions that she will be a strong advocate for our kids and our public schools,” Mr. Portman said.

Mr. Portman was one of 50 Republicans who supported the nomination, every vote critical to her confirmation. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her 51-50.

Mr. Portman was inundated with phone calls from constituents urging a no vote because of Mrs. DeVos’ history of supporting charter schools and vouchers and lack of experience, either as a mother, as a student, or as an employee, in public education, and apparent lack of knowledge of federal education law.

She was also assailed because a political action committee she chaired still owes payment of a $5.3 million fine imposed in 2008 by the Ohio Elections Commission for campaign finance violations.

“As a strong supporter of Career and Technical Education (CTE), I’m pleased that she called CTE an ‘important priority’ and agrees that we must do more to give our young people the job skills to help them succeed,” Mr. Portman said.

“We must also work to protect the rights of students with disabilities to ensure they have access to a high-quality education. Betsy DeVos has made clear she will enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and protect the hard won rights of students with disabilities,” he said.

“I also agree with Betsy that we must do more to make college education more affordable. Students are facing enormous challenges today, and we must do more to increase access to quality, and affordable higher education options,” Mr. Portman said.

“Finally, as was the case with President Obama’s nominees, I believe that presidents deserve considerable deference as they put together their team. I made this point when I was one of a handful of Republicans to support Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch,” Mr. Portman said.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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