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Alexander: Democrats’ 5-month Delay in Confirmation of Deputy Education Secretary “Inexcusable”

Says nation is fortunate to have someone of caliber of General Mitchell Zais willing to serve

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2018 — Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that Senate Democrats’ five month delay in confirming Brigadier General Mitchell Zais as Deputy Secretary of Education was “inexcusable” and “this extremely well-qualified nominee did not deserve to be subject to Democrats’ unreasonable and unnecessary obstruction.”


“Mitchell Zais has broad experience in public education. He has been a college president, state superintendent of education and a Brigadier General,” Alexander said. “There was no reason whatsoever to delay his confirmation this way. The nation is fortunate that someone of this caliber will serve as Deputy Secretary of Education. I look forward to working with him to implement our new law fixing No Child Left Behind and making it simpler and less expensive for students to attend college.”

General Zais has extensive experience working in education and in government. From January 2011 to January 2015, General Zais served as South Carolina’s elected State Superintendent of Education. Before that, he was President of Newberry College in South Carolina for 10 years. He also served as a Commissioner on South Carolina’s Commission on Higher Education for six years. And after 31 years in the U.S. Army, he retired as a Brigadier General. He graduated from West Point, and has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Education from The Citadel.

As Chairman of the Senate’s education committee, Alexander chaired a hearing on General Zais’ nomination on November 15, 2017, 182 days ago, and the committee first approved his nomination on December 13, 2017, 154 days ago. Compared to the first Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education under President Obama, Anthony Miller—Mr. Miller was confirmed 68 days after being nominated. None of the past six confirmed Deputy Secretaries of the Department of Education had a confirmation hearing. At the request of Democrats, Chairman Alexander held a confirmation hearing on General Zais’ nomination.