© Victoria Sarno Jordan
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is setting her sights on Betsy DeVos, the wealthy Republican donor who has become a lightning rod for the liberal grassroots as President Trump’s secretary of Education.
Warren on Wednesday announced the launch of DeVos Watch, a coordinated effort to scrutinize the secretary’s handling of the $1 trillion federal student loan program and her oversight of student loan servicers, among other issues.
“We all have an interest in a well-run, fiscally responsible, corruption-free student aid program that puts students first. That is Secretary DeVos’ job — and it is Congress’ job to make sure she does it,” Warren wrote in an op-ed published by CNN.
Recently, Warren has raised concerns over potential ethics violations at the Department of Education, pushed DeVos to reinstate student loan protections and pressed the Trump administration to shield student loan borrowers from unnecessary fees.
The salvos at DeVos are just the latest attempt by Warren to branch out from her expertise on financial matters — a pattern that has fueled speculation she is eyeing a presidential bid in 2020.
Warren drags Tillerson into fight over SEC rule
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday, criticizing his past lobbying efforts to exclude Exxon Mobil from a rule that would require it to disclose payments to foreign governments.
“[A] handful of powerful oil and gas companies have been after this requirement from the start — and Exxon is at the top of that list,” Warren said on the Senate floor, as she spoke in opposition of the GOP effort to repeal Securities and Exchange Commission’s extraction rule.
“In fact, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon at the time, personally lobbied against the requirement in 2010. His reason? The foreign payments rule would undermine Exxon’s ability to do business in Russia,” she said.
Tillerson’s business connections with Russia have been a challenging obstacle for the former Exxon chief executive during his contentious confirmation fight in the Senate. He was confirmed Thursday.
Multiple high-ranking Democrats have questioned Tillerson’s integrity, and expressed doubt about his abilities to genuinely represent the interests of the United States on the world stage in light of his business record. He received three confirmation votes from Democrats: Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Heidi Heitkamp(N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
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Pretty soon, the Obama administration plans to change the rules on the advice financial professionals can give to anyone seeking guidance on managing the investments in their retirement accounts. This seemingly narrow matter has pitted politicians, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, against the financial services industry, which says the regulatory fix would make it too costly for it to advise some clients. One problem: That’s not what some companies are saying when they’re not addressing Washington—which is why this week, Warren called them out on it.
Yes, it’s another salvo in the long-running but incredibly important battle over expanding the fiduciary standard to cover individual retirement accounts. Warren’s action highlights not only the financial services industry’s continuing fight for the right to not do their best by their customers—that’s you and me, people!—but how even within the federal government, this dispute is a lot more tangled than it might seem.