Betsy DeVos Resigns

Education Secretary resigns, citing the role of Trump's "rhetoric" in violent protests at the U.S. Capitol building.

January 8, 2021
 
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday night in the wake of President Trump’s role in encouraging the storming of the Capitol by protesters on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal first reported.

The department confirmed her resignation. 

"We should be highlighting and celebrating your administration's many accomplishments on behalf of the American people," she wrote in the resignation letter to Trump, which was obtained by Inside Higher Ed. "Instead we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protesters overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people's business. That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me."

“Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us. I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and model the behavior we hope they would emulate. They must know from us that America is greater than what transpired yesterday. To that end, today I resign from my position, effective Friday, January 8, in support of the oath I took to our Constitution, our people, and our freedoms.”

DeVos is the second cabinet member to resign due to the violent rioting and trashing of the Capitol by the protestors. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned earlier Thursday also reportedly because of Trump’s role in instigating the protest.

DeVos had earlier strongly condemned the violence Wednesday night as Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden’s election.

“An angry mob cannot be allowed to attack our Capitol and impede this process," she said. "The disruptions and violence must end, the law must be upheld, and the work of the people must go on.” 

By leaving office, DeVos removes herself from the debate over whether to use the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment says that the vice president, and a majority of Cabinet officers, can remove the president and install the vice president in his place.

Earlier in the week before the storming of the Capitol, DeVos wrote a letter to Congress.

She urged Congress not to enact President-elect Joe Biden’s proposals to eliminate tuition at public colleges or cancel student debt.

“I hope you also reject misguided calls to make college ‘free’ and require the two-thirds of Americans who didn’t take on student debt or who responsibly paid off their student loans to pay for the loans of those who have not done the same,” DeVos wrote.

"Across-the-board forgiveness of college debts is not only unfair to most Americans, it is also the most regressive of policy proposals -- rewarding the wealthiest sector of our labor force at the expense of the poorest," she wrote.

Biden has proposed to make community colleges and historically Black colleges and universities free, as well as eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities for those making $125,000 or less. Biden would also eliminate $10,000 from all borrowers’ student debt during the pandemic. Then, for those making $125,000 or less, he would forgive debt accumulated to pay tuition, though not loans for living expenses.

DeVos also urged Congress to preserve the new rules on campus sexual assaults her administration approved. Biden has said he plans to reverse the rules, which granted more protections to those accused of sexual assault and harassment but have raised concerns that they would deter victims from coming forward.

"The regulation, which carries the force of law, holds schools accountable for responding equitably and promptly to sexual misconduct, and ensures a more fair and reliable adjudication process," she wrote.

 

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