Betsy DeVos confirmed as education secretary; vice president casts historic tie-breaking vote

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence cast a historic tie-breaking vote Tuesday, February 7th to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next education secretary after the Senate was evenly divided over the controversial pick.

The 51-50 vote ends President Donald Trump’s toughest confirmation battle yet. Senate Democrats debated through the night and into Tuesday morning in a last-ditch attempt to derail DeVos, buoyed by support from Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

DeVos was sworn into office shortly after 6 p.m. ET. Pence administered the oath of office and said his confirmation vote earlier in the day was “the easiest vote I ever cast.”

Throughout the fight, Democrats argued they needed “Just one more!” to lure away another Republican vote. But Senate Republican leaders succeeded in delivering a victory to President Trump in a confirmation fight that very few expected to become as tough as it did.

DeVos’ poor performance in her confirmation hearing — punctuated by her suggestion that a school in Wyoming might want to have guns on premises to protect against grizzly bears — contributed to roaring anger among public school supporters and teachers unions. Even before her hearing, critics pointed to DeVos’s lack of experience with public schools and her bankrolling of efforts like school vouchers that could take money from public institutions.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer voiced his displeasure with the vote moments after she was confirmed, tweeting, “Today @VP Mike Pence did something no one else has ever done: cast the tie breaking vote on his own cabinet nominee.”

DeVos tweeted after the vote, “I appreciate the Senate’s diligence & am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let’s improve options & outcomes for all US students.”

Sen. Chris Murphy told CNN earlier Tuesday that DeVos seemed to have no knowledge of the federal law that protects students with disabilities.

“You put those two things together, lack of compassion for what’s happened to places like Sandy Hook and an inability to just understand the basic law around vulnerable students and it was clear at the end of that hearing that this was someone who shouldn’t be the secretary of education,” the Connecticut Democrat said.

DeVos’ Senate vote comes after a dramatic 24 hours of protest from Democrats inside and outside the Capitol that lasted through the night, into Tuesday morning, with Democratic senators taking shifts in the Senate arguing against DeVos.

The delay tactics have succeeded in stalling many of President Trump’s most important Cabinet picks — but Senate Republican leaders promised Monday to get votes for four nominees this week: DeVos, Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price, Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin and attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions.

President Trump himself noted this on Twitter Tuesday night.

“It is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country. Obstruction by Democrats!” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, with each passing day, more questions have been raised about President Trump’s Cabinet picks. Labor Department nominee Andrew Puzder admitted Monday to hiring an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.

But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn promised to overcome Democratic tactics with long hours at the Capitol — including the possibility of working through Saturday.

“We’ll be burning the midnight oil,” Cornyn said Monday.

7 comments

  • Scott

    Laughable that the concern is she will destroy public education. Public education was destroyed decades ago when schools became test tubes for social experiments and stopped focusing on learning fundamentals.

  • Libsareliars

    So Tammy Baldwin voted against her . What a shock!!! She already has said she is voting against the Supreme Court candidate and she has not even met him. This stupid hack needs to be voted out of office in 2018.

  • Opinion8d

    A sign how far government has gown -‘She will have to address several hot-button issues in higher education, such as rising tuition costs, growing student debt and the troubled for-profit colleges, many of which have closed down, leaving students with huge loans and without a good education or job prospects.’ -WHY is these FEDERAL issues -some should dealt with at the State level, and the fact that people have huge loans and poor job prospects is their own fault! Furthermore, the costs rose due to the ‘easy money loans’ and greedy educational system under Liberal control

  • phacepalm

    The ONLY danger Betsy DeVos presents to the Department of Education and children is to expose the liberal unions and special interest groups that fund the liberal / Democrat / Communist machine. No wonder they oppose her so much. DRAIN the swamp!!!

  • Derp

    Hahah, this is the exact response I was expecting. When you don’t agree with what someone says, you automatically have to put them in a category or give them a label. Too bad I’m not a Liberal. Didn’t vote for Hillary, Bernie, Obama, or the like. Congratulations on being stuck with the “us vs them” mentality, you dumb tool, LOL.

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