Republican Lawmakers Demand Transparency on Title IX Regulations
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged to reveal outside influence on proposed regulations
Two Republican members of the House Oversight and Education and Workforce committees are demanding Education Secretary Miguel Cardona reveal the extent to which outside groups influenced the drafting of the Department of Education’s Title IX regulations.
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI), the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services, along with House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), sent a letter to Cardona on Thursday informing the secretary that the committees are investigating “whether any external organizations played an outsized role in the development of the proposed regulations.”
The Biden administration’s regulations, which were proposed in June 2022, drastically overhaul the department’s current rule, which was implemented by the Trump administration and then-Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Trump-era rules established a number of new requirements aimed at protecting due process in Title IX hearings at colleges.
Title IX, first passed in 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at educational institutions that receive federal funding. The law has largely been credited for the explosion of interest in women’s sports but also governs how institutions must respond to cases of sexual harassment or assault that occur on campus.
The new regulations, which have yet to be finalized, would eliminate a number of those due process requirements, including a right to a live hearing with cross-examination. The regulations would also change the definition of “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity as a protected class in nondiscrimination law.
In their letter, the lawmakers told Cardona that the proposed regulations, “if finalized, will only serve to harm the women that Title IX was designed to protect.”
“The Committees are concerned that your efforts to gut due process protections for accused and accusing students, redefine ‘sex discrimination’ to include ‘gender identity,’ and otherwise abandon established regulations protecting women and girls are improperly motivated and destructive to American students,” they wrote. ”According to the Department, the proposed rewrite of the Title IX regulations is necessary to provide ‘greater clarity regarding the scope of sex discrimination.’ Rather than providing clarity, the proposed regulations weaken essential protections for students that had been secured by Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration.”
The letter requests that the department turn over any communications between the department’s senior staff and outside organizations regarding Title IX and the proposed rule for the committee’s oversight of the Department of Education.
Foxx, in a statement to the Washington Examiner, accused the Biden administration of touting equality while “simultaneously dismantling Title IX and replacing it with a framework that diminishes opportunities for girls and women in America.”
“As a mother and grandmother, I will not stand idly by as this administration thumbs its nose to biology and erases the achievements of women,” Foxx said. “Our joint investigation into this radical policy is an important step in holding President Biden accountable and reaffirming to women that they are not alone in this fight.”
McClain likewise told the Washington Examiner that the Biden administration was “putting women’s rights at risk by dismantling Title IX.”
“As Congress seeks to bring transparency to how new regulations will wipe out female-only sports, Secretary Cardona has refused to answer our questions,” McClain said. “It’s time we get answers. We need to protect women in women’s sports as their safety, privacy, and opportunities are threatened.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Department of Education for comment.
Click here to read more from the Washington Examiner
How important is transparency and open dialogue in the development of Title IX regulations, and why is it necessary to address concerns about outside influence
Include gender identity, and silence voices from a broad range of perspectives may reflect influence from outside organizations,” the letter reads. “Such outside influence would undermine the integrity of the rulemaking process and potentially result in regulations that do not adequately balance the interests of all parties involved.”
The lawmakers are calling on Cardona to disclose any communication or meetings between Department of Education officials and outside organizations regarding the development of the regulations. They also seek any documents or records related to external influence, including records of any meetings, phone calls, emails, or other forms of communication between department officials and external entities.
The letter also urges Cardona to allow the committees to interview any department staff or contractors who were involved in the drafting of the proposed regulations. The lawmakers emphasize the need for transparency and accountability in the rulemaking process, stating that “the American people deserve to know who is influencing the regulations that impact their rights and freedoms.”
Conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups have long been critical of the Biden administration’s approach to Title IX regulations, claiming that the proposed changes would undermine due process rights for accused students and disregard the rights of women. They argue that the elimination of live hearings and cross-examination could prevent accused students from effectively defending themselves and could lead to unfair disciplinary actions.
On the other hand, advocates for survivors of sexual assault and harassment have voiced support for the Biden administration’s proposed regulations, arguing that the current system often fails to adequately address cases of gender-based violence on college campuses. They believe that the new regulations would provide a more inclusive and supportive environment for survivors, especially those from marginalized communities.
The investigation into outside influence on the Title IX regulations comes as the Biden administration faces increasing pressure to make changes to the proposed rules. Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to block the regulations, and advocacy groups on both sides of the issue have been actively lobbying for their preferred outcomes.
Cardona has not yet publicly responded to the letter from Rep. McClain and Rep. Foxx. However, as the investigation unfolds, the education secretary will be under scrutiny to ensure transparency and address concerns about outside influence on the development of the Title IX regulations.
As the debate over Title IX regulations continues, it is crucial for all stakeholders to have access to information about the drafting process and any external influence that may have shaped the proposed rules. Only through transparency and open dialogue can a fair and balanced approach be achieved to protect the rights of all individuals involved in Title IX cases, while also addressing the concerns and needs of survivors and accused students.
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