During a Tuesday hearing on implementation of a major new education law, Senate Education Committee chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., accused the Department of Education of ignoring the law.

"Already we're seeing disturbing evidence that the Department of Education is ignoring the [Every Student Succeeds Act]," Alexander said. "It's not worth the paper it's printed on if it's not implemented properly."

The law passed Congress with majority support from both parties in December 2015.

Alexander specifically referred to a proposed rule from the Department of Education that would require local school districts to include teacher salaries in measuring state and local spending. The rule would also require state and local spending on schools serving low-income students be at least equal to the average amount spent in all other schools.

"If that were adopted, your proposal would require a complete, costly overhaul of almost all the state and local finance systems in the country, something we did not pass in the law," Alexander said. "It would force teachers to transfer to new schools, something we did not pass in the law. It would require states and school districts to move back to the burdensome practice of detailing every individual cost, when the purpose of the law is expressly written to relieve some of that burden."

Alexander says it's not about whether the rule is right or wrong, it's that Congress explicitly says the department can't propose such a rule. "Not only is what you're doing against the law, the way you're trying to do it is against another provision in the law," Alexander said.

Alexander even took a shot at Arne Duncan, who was secretary of education until he retired on Dec. 31, 2015. In December, Duncan said, "Candidly, our lawyers are much smarter than many of the folks who were working on this bill."

Tuesday, Alexander said, "We in Congress were smart enough to anticipate your lawyers' attempts to rewrite the law."

During the question and answer session of the hearing, Alexander quarreled over the rule with Education Secretary John King. "The proposed regulation is careful to maintain district's flexibility," King said.

"So you define the methodology [in the rule]?" Alexander said later in the interaction.

"We do not," King replied. He claimed it wasn't a definition, but a criteria.

"You do! I mean, how can you sit there and say that? Now, I mean, we may not be very smart up here, or at least I may not be, let me speak for myself. I can read. 'Provided that methodology does x, does y.' You are defining a methodology." Alexander said the law explicitly bans the department from doing so.

King maintained his defense that the proposed rule only outlines criteria for districts and states to follow, rather than defining exactly what they must do.

"Dr. King, do you know how ridiculous the statement is you just made?" Alexander said. "If I read you plain English, if I say 'ABC' and you say it's 'DEF' how can that be?"

King countered, "Again, I would characterize it differently."

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.