Senator John Thune
The U.S. Department of Education (DoE) has a specific role within the federal government, fostering the education and growth of our nation’s students. The coordination of federal education programs, management of education activities, and supplementing states efforts to provide our students with the highest quality education is a massive responsibility—one that requires both financial and workforce resources. So it was disconcerting when it was revealed that DoE will be assisting with the implementation and dissemination of information of ObamaCare.
While the effects of the president’s health care law will be felt by parents, teachers, and their families, it is unclear how the DoE’s involvement in implementation will further the department’s mission of educating our nation’s students. Further, the implementation of ObamaCare will require taxpayer dollars and/or federal employees to shift focus from education related efforts to focus on execution of a law that should be spearheaded out of the Department of Health and Human Services—not DoE. The department’s involvement in these efforts raise questions about why the DoE is focusing on implementing ObamaCare instead of fulfilling the priorities of the agency’s mission, and what authority the DoE and other federal agencies have to disseminate information and assist with the implementation of ObamaCare, a law that 55 percent of respondents in a recent Gallup poll view unfavorably.
The DoE is not the first federal agency that has indicated it will aid in the implementation of ObamaCare. Numerous federal agencies have announced intentions to assist with the implementation of the president’s signature health care law, despite the fact that none of these agencies have relevant jurisdiction.
Due to my concerns with the DoE’s involvement in the implementation of ObamaCare, I recently led a group of my Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan questioning the DoE’s authority to involve itself in the implementation of ObamaCare. The letter questions the amount of federal spending the department will devote to implementation, the number of DoE employees that will be used for the effort, and what authority the DoE has to disseminate information and assist with implementation of ObamaCare.Rather than commandeering the DoE and other federal agencies to assist in the implementation of programs and provisions that are not, and may never be ready—as evidenced by the administration’s latest delay of the employer mandate—the administration should instead focus on solutions that actually lower the cost of care and allow Americans to keep the insurance they like. I will continue to monitor the implementation of ObamaCare to ensure the federal government is not diverting important resources from their intended purposes to aid in the implementation of this broken legislation.