In a reversal, President Obama now plans to nominate John B. King Jr. as secretary of education, the White House announced Thursday.
The decision comes after administration officials had indicated that King would be acting secretary for the remainder of Obama’s term because they did not believe his nomination would get a fair hearing in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican who leads the Senate education committee, last month urged Obama to nominate a secretary of education, pledging “to have an immediate hearing and markup and, barring some kind of scandal, work to have that person immediately confirmed.”
King has been leading the Education Department since the beginning of this year, after Arne Duncan stepped down at the end of 2015.
“John has worked to build on the progress our country has made in expanding opportunity for all of our children,” Obama said in a statement. “There is nobody better to continue leading our ongoing efforts to work toward preschool for all, prepare our kids so that they are ready for college and career, and make college more affordable.”
Alexander said in a statement Thursday that King would “receive a prompt and fair hearing in our committee.”
“For proper accountability, especially as we work with the administration on implementing the new law governing elementary and secondary education, it is important to have in charge of the department a member of the president’s cabinet confirmed by the United States Senate,” he said.