Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education, faced tough questions on Tuesday from Democratic lawmakers at her charged confirmation hearing.
DeVos refused to promise that she would not privatize or strip funding from the public schools she would oversee if confirmed.
Asked bluntly by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington whether she would commit to keeping funding for public schools intact, DeVos dodged the question.
"I look forward, if confirmed, to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students," she said. "We acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them, and I'm hopeful that we can work together to find common ground and ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them."
"I take that as not be willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education," Murray replied.
"I guess I wouldn't characterize it in that way," DeVos said.
Murray also pressed DeVos on potential conflicts of interests that could arise from her family's long history of donating its vast wealth to Republican candidates and causes. She is the daughter-in-law of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos, who Forbes has estimated is worth $5.1 billion.
Trump's transition team said Tuesday morning that DeVos had last month submitted a certified ethics agreement and financial disclosure statement, which would reveal any conflicts of interests she might have if confirmed. However, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has yet to clear her.