DeVos delayed: Reason behind rescheduled hearing remains partisan

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WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Education secretary, will have to wait one more week before getting her day in the hot seat before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill.

Senate Republican leaders agreed to postpone two high-profile confirmation hearings scheduled for Wednesday for cabinet nominees of President-elect Donald Trump, including DeVos' and CIA director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas.

The moves followed Democratic complaints that too many hearings for key nominees were planned for that day.

Senate aides confirmed that the confirmation hearings for DeVos will now take place next week and the hearings for Pompeo will take place this Thursday.

Democrats were concerned senators and the public would not be able to digest the testimony for the six hearings that were planned for Wednesday, which is also the day Trump is doing his first news conference in several months to talk about how he is separating himself from his business interests.

"It was clear that Republicans and President-elect Trump were attempting to rush these confirmation hearings," said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan.

"This is a really important function of the Legislative branch and they need to do their job in the Senate and take whatever time they need to get it right.”

The Wednesday hearings are now pared down to four: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson will appear before the Foreign Relations Committee, the second day of testimony before the Judiciary Committee for the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama; the second day of testimony as well for retired Gen. John Kelly, Trump's choice to head the Department of Homeland Security; and a hearing before the Senate transportation committee for Elaine Chao to be secretary of transportation.

Party leaders in recent days have conducted intensive negotiations over the schedules for the hearings. Democrats also have been upset that all of Trump's picks haven't turned over all their background information, including ethics agreements with the government to ensure they avoid financial conflicts of interest in their new posts.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Michigan, won't have a direct stake in confirming any of the nominees, but he said the onus to complete the required vetting process falls on the Office of Government Ethics which he believes is not working quickly enough. The office received financial disclosure paperwork from DeVos in December, but the paperwork has not yet been signed, Politico reports.

"There is no doubt this is a group of (nominees) who have very complex financial backgrounds," Huizenga said. "But these are timelines (the Office of Government Ethics) set out and that were met by the nominees—at least in Betsy DeVos’ case—so what’s the hold up?"

The Washington Post reports the bi-partisan office has not completed its examination of DeVos' "considerable financial holdings" to determine potential ethical concerns because staff had been overwhelmed.

"(DeVos) told me their paperwork was in early, before the deadlines, both for the committee and the big financial review, so that is not a hold up at least from that end," Huizenga said.

Republicans have agreed to the changes in part because they are hoping to confirm multiple cabinet nominees in the hours after Trump is sworn-in January 20.

Democrats have said they are likely to be more cooperative on that front — and not employ procedural delaying tactics — if Republicans meet their wishes on the schedules for hearings.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York praised the changed schedule in a statement Tuesday.

"We've gone from six hearings to three on Wednesday, and that's good progress," Schumer said. "This is a good first step but there is more road to travel."

CNN and FOX 17s Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report.

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