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U.S. Senate Confirms Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary After Historic Tie-Breaking Vote from Vice President Pence

As anticipated, the U.S. Senate has narrowly confirmed President Trump's controversial pick for education secretary. Betsy DeVos was confirmed for the role after, for the first time in history, the vice president was forced to use his vote to break a tie for a cabinet confirmation.

Though Republicans hold majority 52-48, two Republican senators decided to break with their party and oppose DeVos' nomination due to both personal concerns and concerns expressed by their constituents. These senators are Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who are both members of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Murkowski and Collins both voted during a committee hearing to send DeVos' nomination to a full Senate vote but announced afterwards they would be opposing her nomination during this vote.

Leaving the Senate vote evenly split 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence was called upon to use his vote to vote in favor of DeVos, breaking the tie and thus officially confirming her.

DeVos' nomination has been one of Trump's most polarizing nominations yet; senators have said they have received thousands of calls from concerned constituents opposing her candidacy.

Democrats, who unanimously voted against her today, argue that DeVos is unqualified and underprepared to handle the duties that come with being secretary of education. Many are specifically concerned that given DeVos' ties to school choice, voucher programs and charter schools, she'll do irreparable harm to public education once in office. Others fear her lack of experience will result in the suffering of students who need support the most support—English Language Learners, disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.

Supporters, on the other hand, argue that DeVos' decades of work in education demonstrate her commitment to ensuring the education of all children. Supporters argue that opponents are merely incapable of coming to terms with Trump's presidency, consequentially challenging his decisions whenever possible.

"It seems this gridlock and opposition has far less to do with the nominees actually before us than the man who nominated them," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, according to PBS.

 

Related Readings:

Trump Administration 'Very Confident' DeVos Will Be Confirmed as Secretary of Education

11 Stand-Out Moments from Betsy DeVos Hearing

The Top 10 Betsy DeVos Quotes That Explain Her Goals as Secretary of Education

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

2/7/2017

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