Betsy DeVos on transgender student bathroom guidance: “This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.” pic.twitter.com/zJ3VnL8zQs
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 23, 2017
During her Thursday appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Betsy DeVos defended her decision to support Trump’s removal of transgender students’ bathroom rights by blaming President Obama. The Education Secretary said the original guidelines (which allow transgender students use the bathroom of their choosing) were a “huge overreach” to begin with.
Trump had promised during his campaign to protect transgender student rights but made an about-face when he removed those protections on Wednesday. The decision caused a dust-up in his administration with Devos and Attorney General Jeff Session reportedly splitting on the topic, with DeVos feeling apprehensive about revoking the rights.
But it appears she is back in line with the Trump administration on the issue at CPAC. During a Q&A with CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany, DeVos defended the decision to revoke transgender student rights. McEnany blamed Obama (which earned thunderous applause), and DeVos agreed that the order was an “overreach.” She also feels it’s not the government’s responsibility to deal with their rights:
“This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach, a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach. We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment,” she said in the statement. “This is not a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate.”
DeVos also addressed the negative response to her confirmation, which resulted in protests outside of schools. She brushed these concerns aside: “My job isn’t to win a popularity contest with the media or the education establishment here in Washington,” DeVos said. “My job as Secretary of Education is to make education work for students.”
She even managed to sneak in a potshot at Bernie Sanders: “I’m the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
DeVos at CPAC: I’m “the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch” https://t.co/0QeBGQG2kp
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 23, 2017