White House says Jerry Falwell Jr. will be part of task force on higher education

(REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo)File Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, January 31, 2016.

The White House has confirmed that Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. will be involved in a planned task force on higher education.

In January, Falwell revealed that President Donald Trump and other officials had asked him to head a task force on reforming regulations related to higher education. However, there is still little information on the task force's role, membership, purview, and timing.

"We are working on a task force that Jerry Falwell will be involved with," a White House official, who was authorized to speak on the subject, told The Chronicle.

Falwell, a vocal supporter of Trump, first mentioned that task force during the time when he said Trump asked him to become the secretary of education, a post that went to Betsy DeVos. Last week, he said that the White House had asked him to be "one of 15 college presidents to work on the task force."

There had been speculations that plans for the task force may have been scrapped as Trump failed to mention it during his remarks at Liberty University's May 13 graduation or at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on June 9.

On May 31, the Department of Education released a letter that did not include Falwell among a list of people who would be working under its authority on regulation rollbacks.

On Sunday, a White House spokesman revealed that Falwell will be a part of a separate White House task force on higher education.

"This is a White House task force and not a Department of Education task force," Falwell told Politico.

The Liberty University president said that he is talking to different officials, "but we haven't had any substantive discussions on the issues yet."

Earlier this year, Falwell said that the president wanted him to lead the group that would tackle "overreaching regulation" and micromanagement of universities by the department.

"There's too much intrusion into the operation of universities and colleges. I've got a whole list of concerns. It mainly has to do with deregulation," he said.

According to the Chronicle, the Education Department is pursuing its own review of regulations in accordance with an executive order issued by Trump in February. Members of the Congress and others have questioned whether Falwell will be involved in the review, but a letter from a top official at the department seemed to suggest that the Liberty University president will not be participating in that effort.

"Within the department, the requirements of the executive order will be carried out through a collaborative effort by both political and career staff," the letter stated.

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