- Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, was chosen Monday to chair the House Education and the Workforce Committee again, and she wasted no time warning President Joe Biden's administration that Education Department officials will be answering her questions.
- "To officials in the Biden administration: think about investing in a parking space on Capitol Hill — you will be here often," Foxx said in a statement. "Conducting vigorous and sustained oversight of the federal government, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, will be among my top priorities."
- Foxx also called for stopping the administration's regulatory agenda, which she described as "reckless and destructive."
Foxx has been the presumed leader of the House's education committee since Republicans captured control of the chamber in November's election. She previously chaired the committee from 2017 to 2019 before Democrats took control of the House and gave leadership of the committee, which they called the Committee on Education and Labor, to Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia.
Rep. Tim Walberg, a Michigan Republican, challenged Foxx for the chair, which she could only pursue with a waiver because of Republican leadership term limits. The GOP Steering Committee delayed choosing a candidate for several contested committee chairs, including education, while Republicans resolved a lengthy fight over who would be House speaker.
If the past is any predictor, Foxx’s selection signals scrutiny and bombast aimed at the Biden administration and business as usual in K-12 and higher education.
Last fall, Republicans on the House education committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee started an investigation into the alleged use of federal K-12 pandemic relief funding for critical race theory curriculum, equity, inclusion and other programming that conservatives refer to as “leftist ideology.”
The investigation was sparked by concerns that federal relief money is being directed to initiatives for “LGBTQ+ cultural competency,” “environmental literacy,” and “racially biased curriculum and programs based on Critical Race Theory” rather than to learning recovery efforts.
The status of that investigation is unclear now that a new Congress has been seated.
The Biden administration's proposed regulations for Title IX that aim to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination will also likely continue to be a contentious topic on the committee. The proposed rules would change how sexual assault and harassment in public schools are reported, investigated and punished.
In a June statement after release of the proposed regulations, Foxx said: "Today’s proposed Title IX regulations are nothing more than a conduit for the Left’s woke agenda that will demolish due process rights and the safety of young women and girls across the country, with promised regulations still to come to undermine women’s access to athletic opportunities."
But there are areas of agreement among Republican and Democratic colleagues on the committee. Building capacity for early childhood education, special education and career and technical education has seen bipartisan support in the past. More recently, members on both sides of the aisle have spoken in favor of strengthening mental health supports in schools.
In a September hearing, Foxx said that while she has concerns about social-emotional instruction, schools should play a role in addressing student mental health struggles.
“Sometimes addressing those issues is necessary to help a student learn,” Foxx said then. “At the same time, I know parents are concerned schools are becoming so focused on the students’ mental health and social-emotional learning, the schools are losing sight of their core mission.”
In higher education, Foxx has been one of the most outspoken critics of Biden's plan to forgive as much as $20,000 in federal student loan debt for individuals making up to $125,000 annually. She called the program a "slap in the face" for those who didn't go to college or who've paid off their loans after Biden announced the plan in August.
"I am deeply honored by the trust placed in me by my colleagues to chair a committee whose work touches the lives of every American," Foxx said Monday. "I do not take this trust or responsibility lightly. I will use my position to protect the rights of workers, job creators, students, and parents."