The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) voted 16 to 6 in favor of approving John King’s nomination as Secretary of Education Wednesday morning. King received support from all Democrats on the Committee, but a number of Republican senators voted against his confirmation, including Senators Mike Enzi (WY), Richard Burr (NC), Johnny Isakson (GA), Rand Paul (KY), Pat Roberts (KS), and Tim Scott (SC). The nomination will now move to the Senate floor for a vote by the full chamber.
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who strongly urged President Obama to submit an official nomination for Secretary of Education, voted in favor of advancing King’s nomination and noted the importance of having a Senate-approved Secretary in place for the upcoming year as implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) moves forward.
Although King won the support of every Democrat on the Committee, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) expressed reservations. Warren voted to advance King’s nomination on Wednesday but stated that she would not vote yes when the nomination reaches the Senate floor unless the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides more detailed information about how it intends to protect student loan borrowers from “fraudulent colleges.”
The Administration had originally intended to allow King to serve in an “acting” capacity for the duration of the President’s term, but Alexander’s urging and ED’s upcoming work to implement ESSA influenced the President to officially nominate the Acting Secretary. King received a collegial nomination hearing last month and, at the Senate HELP Committee’s vote earlier this week, Alexander said he hopes the Senate will vote promptly to confirm King.
Emma Brown, “Senate Committee Votes to Confirm John King, Obama’s Nominee for Education Secretary,” Washington Post, March 9, 2016.