WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is ready to announce after deliberations, hearings, and review of available paperwork that he will vote “no” on President-elect Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt. Below are statements on his rationale on each individual decision:
“After meeting with Betsy DeVos to discuss her nomination to be Secretary of Education and participating in hearings as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I have significant concerns about Ms. DeVos’ nomination. Ms. DeVos has no experience in public education and the education work she has done is centered upon pursuing efforts to undermine and privatize public schools. The education policies Ms. DeVos advocated for in Michigan have produced abysmal results for children. In Detroit, Ms. DeVos pushed for measures that substantially cut funding to public school students and diverted public dollars into taxpayer funded for-profit charter schools run by private companies with virtually no oversight or accountability standards. According to the Detroit Free Press the plan that Ms. DeVos pushed for ‘enabled a range of abuses in a system now responsible for more than 140,000 Michigan children.’ The Detroit Free Press investigation found:
‘Wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records. No state standards for who operates charter schools or how to oversee them. And a record number of charter schools run by for-profit companies that rake in taxpayer money and refuse to detail how they spend it, saying they’re private and not subject to disclosure laws.’
“I’m concerned that Ms. DeVos would pursue policies for Pennsylvania students that The New York Times has found to have created ‘a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States’ in Michigan. Pennsylvania has a near 200 year history of commitment to the public education of our children. In fact, 92 percent of students attend traditional public schools, and charter schools must be public, nonprofit corporations, not for-profit entities. Ms. DeVos has also funded radical organizations that have sought to weaken protections for victims of campus sexual assault and undermine civil rights protections for LGBT students and students with disabilities. I fought hard to pass into law the Campus SaVE Act, which put in place uniform reporting standards for sexual assaults on college campuses. I am offended that President-elect Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Education has supported efforts to make it harder for campus sexual assault victims to receive justice. Ms. DeVos’ answer to my question, in which she refused to commit to enforcing the current law on campus sexual assault contained in Title IX, was not acceptable. It is not ‘premature’ for a nominee to be Secretary of Education to commit to enforcing campus sexual assault laws. Ms. DeVos would take public education in our nation backward and make it harder for public school students in Pennsylvania to achieve their potential. I will vote against her nomination.”
“I met with Senator Sessions and expressed to him my substantial concerns regarding his nomination to serve as our next Attorney General. On the critically important issue of voting rights, we have a fundamental disagreement on legislation to protect these voting rights. Senator Sessions and I discussed the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder at length. Senator Sessions celebrated the decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that certain states and jurisdictions with histories of discrimination seek preclearance from the federal government before changing voting rules. Yet, more than half of these so-called preclearance states have implemented restrictive voting laws after the Shelby decision, some of which were proposed the very next day after it was handed down, and over 800 polling places in these states alone were closed since the decision as well. As a cosponsor of legislation to restore preclearance requirements, I believe Democrats and Republicans have an obligation to come together to ensure that all Americans have the full protection of the Voting Rights Act.
“In addition, Senator Sessions’ vote against a non-binding amendment simply expressing the sense of the Senate that immigrants should not be banned from this country based on their religion is offensive. After reviewing his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his Senate record, his record as a prosecutor and meeting with him, I will vote against his nomination to be our next Attorney General.”
“The Pennsylvania Constitution (article I, section 27) states that: ‘The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.’
“If Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is confirmed as the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I am concerned that the standards that protect the quality of the water Pennsylvanians drink and the air Pennsylvanians breath will be weakened and our Commonwealth’s children will pay the price. Mr. Pruitt’s record is clear: he fought to dismantle the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, anti-pollution programs that target ozone and mercury in the air, the agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed and denied the science of climate change. Since 2014, The New York Times has reported extensively about Mr. Pruitt’s tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General. In a 2014 story, The New York Times reported that Mr. Pruitt’s office ‘took a letter written by lawyers for the Oklahoma-based oil and gas company Devon Energy opposing E.P.A. regulations, copied it almost word for word onto state government stationery, and sent it to the agency as the official position of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.’ In 2017, The New York Times reported that ‘Mr. Pruitt turned to major corporate law firms, which typically defend energy companies fighting these [environmental] laws, for help. In some cases, that assistance was offered free.’ On behalf of the children of Pennsylvania, who deserve clean water to drink, clean air to breathe and action on climate change, I will vote against Mr. Pruitt’s nomination.”