Homeland Security nominee needs ‘no on-the-job training’
President Donald Trump on Thursday introduced his choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a former staffer at the sprawling post-9/11 federal agency who he says will need “no on-the-job training” for the lead role.
Trump also called on Congress to “put politics aside” and confirm deputy White House chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen by a “strong, bipartisan vote.”
But even before Trump had formally announced Nielsen’s appointment during an East Room ceremony attended by much of the Cabinet and senior members of the White House staff, at least one congressional Democrat said her role during Hurricane Katrina should be scrutinized.
The Senate must confirm Nielsen’s nomination.
At least one Democratic congressman said the Senate should scrutinize Nielsen’s role during Katrina. “I am very concerned about her past work in the Bush administration during its botched response to Hurricane Katrina,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss.
DeVos touts school priorities
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has announced a set of priorities for states and schools competing for federal grant money.
The areas of focus, outlined in a statement on Wednesday, range from school choice to science and technology to special education to school safety.
The department distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in grants each year, and education secretaries have historically used these competitions to push their priorities.
School choice, or the promotion of charter schools and private school voucher programs as an alternative to district schools, has been a focus of the Trump administration.
There are a total of 11 priorities on DeVos’ list. After receiving public comments on these proposals, the agency will settle on one or several of them, according to the statement.
U.S., Israel to exit UNESCO
The United States announced Thursday it is pulling out of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for “fundamental reform” in the agency.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel plans to follow suit.
While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department’s statement was unexpected. The Paris-based agency’s executive board is in the midst of choosing a new chief — with Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari leading the heated election heading into Friday’s final vote.
Outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova expressed “profound regret” at the U.S. decision and tried to defend UNESCO’s reputation.