Speed Reads

Cabinet hearings

Bernie Sanders asks Betsy DeVos pointed questions about her family's contributions to the GOP

During Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Education if she was sitting in front of him due to the hefty contributions she has made to the GOP.

DeVos, whose father founded a manufacturing company that came to be worth more than $1 billion and whose father-in-law co-founded Amway, wasn't able to recall how much money her family has contributed to the Republican Party over time, but said it was "possible" they donated $200 million. "I don't mean to be rude, but do you think if you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family has not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, you would be here today?" Sanders asked. DeVos — who has no professional experience working in public schools, has never held public office, and has spent decades lobbying for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools — responded by saying she worked "very hard on behalf of parents and children for the past almost 30 years, to be a voice for parents and voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children."

Sanders then pressed DeVos on whether she would work with him on making public colleges and universities tuition-free. "I think that's a really interesting idea, and it's really great to consider and think about, but we also need to consider the fact there's nothing in life that's truly free, somebody's going to pay for it," she said. Sanders said she's correct, and proposals to lower tax breaks for billionaires would help pay for his plan. "We can work together and work hard on being sure college or higher education in some form is affordable for all young people who want to pursue it," DeVos responded.Catherine Garcia