As the 115th Congress begins its work and we prepare for a new President to take office, there are many changes underway in Washington, DC. NCLD is monitoring all of them and here are a few things we think you need to know this week:
Tuesday, the U.S. Senate will begin holding hearings to determine whether President-elect Trump’s nominees should be appointed to serve in the federal government. NCLD is closely watching two of these hearings –Secretary of Education and Attorney General.
Here is some information about each candidate for these positions and our letters to the Senators who will be conducting the hearings:
- Secretary of Education: President Elect Trump nominated Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos, a philanthropist with strong interest in voucher programs, to serve as the Secretary of Education. Ms. DeVos has not spoken publicly about her views of the 1 in 5 students with learning and attention issues or students with disabilities. Thus, NCLD is urging Senators to question Ms. DeVos on her commitment to public education and the obligation of our public schools to provide every student, including those with disabilities, with the opportunities and supports they need to succeed.
- If you are interested in watching and hearing what Ms. DeVos has to say, the HELP Committee will be live-streaming the hearing beginning at 5pm on Tuesday, January 17th and you can follow it here.
- Attorney General: President-elect Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican Senator from Alabama, to serve as Attorney General and oversee the US Department of Justice. NCLD is urging Senators to question Senator Sessions on his commitment to protecting individuals with disabilities and to seek clarification about his ability and intent to uphold laws that protect them. NCLD is particularly concerned because in 2000, Senator Sessions claimed that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is “a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America,” is the reason “we have children we cannot control,” and is “the single most irritating problem” in our nation’s schools. As the Attorney General is our nation’s top law enforcement official and responsible for enforcing laws which are critical to individuals with disabilities, NCLD is concerned about the Senators past comments and what they could mean for our future.
- If you are interested in watching and hearing what Senator Sessions has to say, CSPAN will be live-streaming the Judiciary Committee hearing beginning at 9:30am on Tuesday, January 10th and you can follow it here.
The nomination hearings give the public a glimpse into the nominees’ vision and how they would approach their future role. Making sure that the laws that protect students with disabilities are upheld and enforced is a top priority for NCLD. That’s why we shared our letters with Congress and voiced our questions and concerns about these nominations.
Finally, 55 new members of Congress have taken office this session. Over the next few months, NCLD will meet with their staff and share the 5 priority areas that will guide our work during the 115th Congress and set the table for what’s to come. While this is a busy week, it is only the beginning. Throughout it all NCLD will remain dedicated to ensuring that the 1 in 5 individuals with learning and attention issues have every opportunity to thrive in school and in life.