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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Education secretary by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in the unsuccessful effort to derail the nomination of the wealthy Republican donor. The Senate historian said Pence’s vote was the first by a vice president to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination.

Democrats cited her lack of public school experience and financial interests in organizations pushing charter schools. DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations.

Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska fear that DeVos’ focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.

Despite the win, DeVos emerges bruised from the highly divisive nomination process. She has faced criticism, even ridicule for her stumbles and confusion during her confirmation hearing and scathing criticism from teachers unions and civil rights activists over her support of charter schools and her conservative religious beliefs.

But President Donald Trump remained uncompromising and accused Democrats for seeking to torpedo education progress. In a tweet before the vote, he wrote “Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!”

After an all-night speaking marathon by Democrats, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urged her Republican colleagues to vote against DeVos, calling her unqualified and saying that she will be a poor advocate for low income families and students with disabilities who rely on public education.

“We are just within one vote of sending this nomination back and asking the president to send us a nominee that can be supported by members on both sides of the aisle, that can set a vision that can fight for public schools, that can be that champion,” Murray said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said DeVos will seek to empower states, not federal bureaucrats, to make important education decisions.

“I know that she is committed to improving our education system so that every child — every child — has a brighter future,” McConnell said ahead of the vote.

Emotions ran high ahead of the vote as constituents jammed senators’ phone lines with calls and protesters gathered outside the Capitol, including one person in a grizzly bear costume to ridicule DeVos’ comment during her confirmation hearing that some schools might want guns to protect against grizzlies. Her opponents also charge that DeVos has no experience to run public schools, having never attended one or sent her children to a public school.

DeVos has provided few details about her policy agenda, but she is sure to have a busy job. She will have to weigh in on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and possibly undo some of the previous administration’s regulation initiatives on school accountability and spending, which have been criticized by Republicans as federal overreach. Rules on such things as accountability already have been on hold.

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. Observers will pay close attention to how DeVos deals with sexual assault and freedom of speech on campuses.

DeVos will also have to react to Trump’s campaign proposal of funneling $20 billion of public funds toward school vouchers.

In addition to DeVos, Republicans hope to confirm a series of other divisive nominees this week: Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, GOP Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as health secretary and financier Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary.

In each case Democrats intend to use the maximum time allowed under the Senate’s arcane rules to debate the nominations, which may result in a late-night votes this week and delay Mnuchin’s approval until Saturday.

Republicans complain that previous presidents have been able to put their Cabinets in place more quickly. Democrats say it’s Trump’s fault because many of his nominees have complicated financial arrangements and ethical entanglements they claim they have not had enough time to dissect. Thus far, six Cabinet and high-level officials have been confirmed, including the secretaries of state, defense, homeland security and transportation.

The clash over nominees has created a toxic atmosphere in the Senate that mirrors the tense national mood since Trump’s election, with Democrats boycotting committee votes and Republicans unilaterally jamming nominees through committee without Democrats present. Yet there’s little suspense about the final outcome on any of the nominees because Democrats themselves changed Senate rules when they were in the majority several years ago so that Cabinet nominees can now be approved with a simple majority, not the 60 votes previously required.

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(Photo Source: AP)

17 thoughts on “DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary As Pence Breaks Tie

  1. specialt757 on said:

    She’s been referred to as the least educated Secy of Education ever. She doesn’t know nearly enough to hold the top “education” position in this land. Unfortunately, she will do nothing to help the public schools perform better, just move kids into another “public sponsored school”. Why not fix the problems for the majority of the kids and not ignore them? You have a prototype with the best programs, curriculums, etc…, why not model all public schools like them? Bottom line, it’s all about the dollar bill, not about the children of this country. Absolutely sickening.

  2. So the Michigan voters helped the trumpster reach the finish line. White women helped him to win by voting for him over Hillary. This is the consequences for their action. Blk women didn’t vote for this train wreck. We voted for someone with knowledge. No she didn’t win, bc she was a bad candidate, but what we’re left with is a disaster. Everyone in his cabinet have conflicts of interest. This is outrageous. Stop the madness. Plez ppl go out and vote in 2018

    • I said Michigan bc that’s where she’s from. The reviews of her are horrendous. Plus she plegerized statistics. Outrageous!!

  3. Another sad day for Americans children. I’m sick of these politicians. She only got the job bc she gave him millions in campaign contributions. Piss on this f up country.

  4. Pudney on said:

    This is what happens when people do not vote. After Trump won, I spoke to 2 black single women with children barley making a living. There excuse for not voting was they were not interested. I wonder if they will be interested when this man cuts every federal aid that is currently helping them. I am blessed not to be on any aid. However, I do think of others that are not.

  5. Another UN-QUALIFIED TURD in Chump’s administration!

    Has anyone besides me noticed that his entire cabinet is full of BILLIONAIRES who KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HOW THE US GOV’T OPERATES!!!!!!

    I feel sorry for the public school children now that DeVos is in charge!!!!!!!!!
    Public Education in America has now gone down the sewer!!!!!!!!

    • I’ve been complianing about this whole mess since that nightmare scenario on nov. 8, when he won. I’m hoping this bad dream will end, sooner than later. But I’m sad to say we’re stuck in this rut for the foreseeable future. I will continue to speak my truth, daily

      • Yes bitch, I attended them. I still do for my grandson. Stop trying to put all blks in a box. I probably have more common sense in my baby toe than u have in your pea brain.

    • Have you been in a coma for the last 25 years? Public education has been in the sewers since the DoE was created by the second worst president ever, Jimmy Carter. He was the worst up until January 19 of this year.
      Your boy Corey Booker praised her before he decided to run for President in 2020.
      When Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was mayor of Newark, he was a strong corporate school reformer, supporting choice and vouchers. He appeared at the May 2016 policy summit of DeVos’s American Federation for Children, which he called “an incredible organization,” and he urged the attendees to “stay faithful to the work we are doing.” September 10, 2010

  6. Oh no, something good might be done to correct the terrible school systems. Children may actually stay in school and graduate. The unions sure are going to be upset about that.

    • I can’t wait to see what will be said when she ruin the school system. . Republithugs like to line there pockets but they’re the lst ones to slam unions. Unions aren’t always a bad thing. Stop bashing Unions. The republithugs don’t want equal pay for equal work. They don’t want to increase pay for those low wage paying jobs. But it’s ok to keep letting the billionaires line their pockets and pay no taxes. The big Corp want to keep paying the hard workers peanuts.

      • Do you seriously think schools can get any worse? Well the teachers (union) blame the parents for poor achievement and the parents blame the teachers (union). Who do you blame?

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