A committee vote Tuesday to advance Catherine Lhamon’s nomination for assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education to the full Senate ended in a tie, putting a pause on Lhamon’s confirmation for now.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted on Lhamon’s nomination along party lines, with 11 Democrats in favor and 11 Republicans opposing. Because the vote ended in a tie, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will have to make a motion on the Senate floor to discharge the nomination from committee in a full Senate vote. It’s unclear when that would happen, given that the Senate is currently spending its time on a bipartisan infrastructure package before it leaves for an August recess.
HELP Committee ranking member Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, explained in a statement released after the vote that he opposed advancing Lhamon’s nomination because she is an “undeniably partisan” nominee.
“Catherine Lhamon’s track record is also deeply troubling if not outright disqualifying,” Burr said. “Ms. Lhamon has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric, violating students’ constitutionally-based right to due process and abusing regulatory power.”
Senator Patty Murray, chair of the HELP committee and a Democrat from Washington, maintained her support for Lhamon in a release, adding that she is highly qualified for the role and that she will ensure students across the country are protected.
Lhamon was criticized by Republicans at her confirmation hearing last month for her previous stint as assistant secretary for civil rights during the Obama administration. They questioned her strong views on the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations and expressed concern about her past use of informal guidance.