Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a nomination hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education.
In his prepared opening remarks, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the Committee’s top Republican, highlighted his priorities for the Committee as the nation continues to face a global pandemic. Additionally, Ranking Member Burr expressed his desire to work with Dr. Cardona to reopen schools quickly and safely and tackle student debt in a bipartisan way.
WATCH: Ranking Member Burr’s opening remarks before the nomination hearing of Dr. Miguel Cardona.
“My main priority for this committee is health care.
“We should all – Senators and staff and the Administration – anticipate spending more time than you can imagine on the response to COVID-19 and to make sure we’re better prepared for the next one. This includes looking at supply chains and making sure we make in the U.S. what we need to – not through burdensome requirements but incentives.
“We also need to work to make sure the United States research enterprise is aware of, and better prepared for, threats from our enemies.
“We need to continue to prioritize enabling and incentivizing private sector innovation. We need to continue to prioritize enabling and incentivizing private sector innovation. We’ve seen what the private sector can do – a vaccine developed and authorized less than a year after a novel virus was discovered should become the norm.
“Turning to Dr. Cardona, welcome. Congratulations on your nomination.
“You’ve been asked to lead the Education Department in a very challenging time. You’ve had a meteoric rise from a classroom teacher to principal to superintendent of the small state of Connecticut. You should be proud of that, and I’m glad the President has nominated you to this position.
“Millions of children are stuck at home, trying to learn. Parents are at their wits end and the adults running public schools across our country are failing to actually follow the science and open schools safely.
“CDC experts just released a paper in the Journal of American Medical Association on January 26 that said ‘…the preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring insofar as the type of rapid spread that was frequently observed in congregate living facilities or high-density worksites has not been reported in education settings in schools.’
“That says to me we should be seriously talking about reopening schools as quickly as possible. That’s what the science tells us. And it’s what students need.
“I’m not eager to see the Biden Administration pursue a dangerous and foolhardy proposal to simply forgive student debt.
“Instead I invite you to work with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to pass legislation that dramatically simplifies student loan repayment options, allows borrowers to pay what they can reasonably afford capped at 10% of their discretionary income, and have their loans forgiven after 20 years.
“That is bipartisan legislation I have previously introduced with Sen. Angus King, and I’m sure we’d be happy to work with the Administration and you to pass that into law in the next 100 days.”
To read Ranking Member Burr’s full opening statement at today’s nomination hearing, click here.