Senate education committee deadlocks on Biden’s nominee for civil rights head

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • A Senate committee Tuesday did not advance the nomination of Catherine Lhamon, the White House’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
  • Her nomination was held up in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in an 11 to 11 tie vote along party lines, reflecting the stark partisan divisions around her record as former OCR head under the Obama administration.
  • Lhamon still is confirmed if a Senate leader attempts to move her nomination out of committee and the full Senate approves it.

Dive Insight:

Lhamon is vying for a critical department role, one charged with helping ensure equal educational access, including protecting students against sexual misconduct and LGBTQ and racial prejudice.

The position is even more critical as the Biden administration begins to rework the federal rule on Title IX, the law banning sex-based discrimination in educational settings. Lhamon could help shape how colleges are required to respond to and investigate campus sexual violence.

But her nomination may be in jeopardy. The HELP committee’s split tally sets off another round of government procedures.

The Senate majority or minority leader would have to bring a motion to the Senate floor to move Lhamon’s nomination from the HELP committee. If that motion passes, then the entire body can vote whether to confirm her.

While this is a possibility, in the short term, the Senate is almost entirely focused on crafting and passing an infrastructure bill palatable across the political spectrum.

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