Today Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by the Senate. The deciding vote came when Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, the first time a tie has been broken for a cabinet confirmation.
The confirmation marked the end of a brutal political battle and an effort by Senate Democrats and Democrats across the nation to stop DeVos’s confirmation. Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) shifted to the opposing side, joining Democrats in the confirmation process. They became the first Republicans to oppose a Trump cabinet nominee.
Her nomination has been by far the most contentious and difficult of all Trump’s cabinet nominees, most of which were confirmed relatively smoothly.
The last time the Vice President broke a tie in the Senate was in 2008 when then-Vice President Dick Cheney voted on tax legislation.
It’s the Republican side demanding a vote for an unqualified candidate, I hope against hope that another Republican will have the courage to join us
-Senate Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-New York)
Senate Democrats had an all-night debate over DeVos’s confirmation that ended at noon today, a historic show of defiance unprecedented in the Trump confirmations this year.
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota), said that DeVos is “fundamentally incompetent,” describing her hearing as “one of the most embarrassing scenes” he’s seen since being elected to the United States Senate.
I believe it may have been one of the most embarassing performances by a nominee in the history of the United States Senate, we would not accept a Secretary of Defense who couldn’t name the branches of the military.
-Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) on Betsy DeVos
Ms. DeVos is a GOP donor, a major one at that, who is a long-time donor to educational causes, usually pro-school choice causes. She is a fierce opponent of teachers unions and liberal groups and a major supporter of school vouchers and charter schools.
She had a rocky performance at hearings, one of the most interesting ones is when she defended guns in schools because of a possible grizzly bear attack.
Republicans in the Senate and in the White House remain flamboyant about their support of DeVos, despite the omnipresent opposition. Some say that Democrats are trying to stop confirmations because they are still bitter about their loss in the presidential election.
We’re no longer in the midst of a contentious presidential election
-Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
He also said that DeVos will give power back to state and local governments because they are “best suited to make education decisions for our kids.”
This is a sad day for children
-American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten said on the confirmation of DeVos
Senate Democrats face an uphill battle to block any of Trump’s nominees as Republicans only need a simple majority in the Senate.