Joe Lieberman: Betsy DeVos Is Qualified Because She Is Not Part of the Education Establishment

Carolyn Kaster / AP
Carolyn Kaster / AP
Capitol Hill

Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president and former Connecticut senator, told Breitbart News he testified in favor of Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, because she cares about helping schoolchildren, not politics.

“I worked with Betsy for years on school choice legislation, particularly regarding low-income students in the District of Columbia,” said Joseph I. Lieberman, who stopped caucusing with Democratic senators after leading Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), worked against him in the 2006 primary.

The former senator “introduced” DeVos to the committee, along with Sen. Timothy E. Scott (R.-S.C.). Traditionally, senators from the nominee’s home state introduce the nominee to a Senate committee, but neither Michigan Senator stepped up for the task.

“Everything I have seen tells me that Betsy is ready to take on this assignment and do it very well,” Lieberman said in his introduction.

“I know some people are questioning her qualifications to be secretary of education. Too many of those questions seem to be based on the fact that she does not come from within the education establishment,” he said. “But, honestly, I believe that today, that is one of the most important qualifications you can have for the job.”

Lieberman told Breitbart News that after he left the Senate in 2013, he joined DeVos, who asked him to continue working with her as a member of the board of directors of the American Federation for Children.

Then after her nomination was announced, he spoke to DeVos and told her that if she thought it would help, he would testify on her behalf. “I felt it was my responsibility. I know she is an educational reformer and that is what education needs.”

One of the disappointments about the DeVos confirmation process is that the nomination has become a partisan issue, with Democrats opposing the Michigan philanthropist based on politics, not policies, he said.

Democrats used to be part of the school choice and school reform conversation, he said.

“I really regret that because, to me, school choice should at least be bi-partisan, especially when you think about how the Democratic Party in modern times has been the party of civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights, etc. We are talking about the rights of poor children to get a decent education; it ought to be a Democratic issue.”

Lieberman is now practicing law in New York City.