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DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary With Pence Casting Historic Vote

by Countable | 3.20.17

History was made in the Senate today, as Betsy DeVos was confirmed as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Education through a 50-50 vote in the Senate with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. It marked the first time in American history that a vice president broke a deadlocked vote to confirm a Cabinet nominee.

DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, is a long-standing supporter of the Republican Party who has advocated for school choice and charter schools. Her confirmation hearings were extremely contentious, and there had been legitimate questions surrounding her ability to retain enough Republican support to be confirmed.

Republicans view DeVos as someone who will bring fresh ideas to the Dept. of Education, and their backing of her centers on her commitment to two policy goals. Republican leaders expect her to:

  • Reduce federal involvement in the nation's schools, leaving policy development and implementation to the states.
  • Continue her work to expand education options for students and families beyond traditional public schools.

Democratic senators are unanimous in their opposition to DeVos. In recent days they were joined by two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), who both cited tens of thousands of contacts from constituents expressing deep concerns about DeVos as the reason for their objections.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had expressed the following concerns over her nomination:

  • DeVos has no personal experience with public schools. She has never administered, attended, nor had any of her children attend a public school.
  • DeVos is uninformed about national educational debates around student assessment, yet will be leading the department responsible for setting national education standards.
  • DeVos expressed unwillingness to enforce the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, as well as federal regulations regarding reporting of bullying and harassment in schools, preferring to defer to states.
  • DeVos has never worked for a lending institution of any kind. As Secretary of Education she will be responsible for administering over one trillion dollars in student loans, including over a billion dollars in Pell Grants.
  • DeVos testified that she would not advocate for a total ban on guns in schools because there might be students, like those in Wapiti, WY, who need guns to defend themselves from grizzly bears.
  • DeVos was nominated by a president that values loyalty. She may hesitate to pursue investigations against for profit colleges who are accused of fraud and abuse since President Trump owns a for profit university.

-- Asha Sanaker and Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: USCapitol via Flickr / Public Domain)

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  • Betsy
    02/07/2017
    ···

    All of America spoke out against this nomination and 50 Republicans and the VP voted for her anyway. In the history of our government, there has NEVER been someone so unqualified to be Secretary of education. Every Republican senator who voted for her needs to know, we will remember your vote in 2018.

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  • Clay
    02/07/2017
    ···

    I have primarily been Republican. Yet, I never vote straight Republican because not all candidates or such represents the right choice. In my 56 years, I also have not been typically "political", but now I am not left with any choice. What is very troubling is that despite my comments and notices to my representatives, no one is listening. You then have Trump staff saying they only listen to "real people", which clearly anyone that is against anything THEY want disqualifies you as a "real person". I will now be voting against my representatives and encouraging others to do so as well. Shame on all of the Alabama representatives for not doing the right thing. You really believe that Betsy's "ideas" about schools is what we want in Alabama? BS! If you could not get this simple and clear decision correct, how can we trust you with anything? Stupid move on your part...

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  • Robert
    02/07/2017
    ···

    As a 25 year resident of Tennessee and a reasonable American, I'm extremely disappointed that our Representatives chose partisanship over reason today. You have endangered the US Education system for the next 4 years. You've also refused to listen to the constituents who have contacted you over the past few weeks, urging you to vote on the side of reason. Don't think we'll forget about this come election time. We are watching.

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  • debmorrow51
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Marco Rubio and Matt gaetz you have lost two votes (my husband and myself) and you have gained two political enemies. We will do our level best to ensure your failure in any and every future political endeavor. This woman is the most unqualified human you could have selected to head education in this country. You have done a disservice to every child in America proving absolutely that you may be pro-fetus but you are clearly NOT pro-life. You do not deserve your congressional seats or to represent the parents and children of Florida. If your constituents think differently it is only because they are woefully ignorant about her qualifications. I am done with you both. You are awful.

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  • Savannah
    02/07/2017
    ···

    This is an absolute travesty. Amidst the cry of the people to OPPOSE this confirmation, you idly stood by and let your pockets be filled instead of considering the welfare of our children's educational futures. This is not a game to be played. Posterity will be negatively affected by the laziness of our representatives, who did not represent their constituents' desires in the slightest. I am appalled and embarrassed at your lack of action.

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  • Niki.V
    02/07/2017
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    I will no longer consider any of our current senators for re-election. When you deliberately vote against your constituents you are no longer for your people and you are no longer a public servant. You should be ashamed of your actions today and your blatant disregard of your state's outcry for education reform and the request to vote No for Devos.

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  • Lindsey
    02/07/2017
    ···

    I cannot describe the disappointment I feel right now. Where is the accountability? Where are the standards? Do you view your roles as MY elected representatives to simply rubber stamp whatever the president wants? Do you have no integrity, no value for truth? I'm disgusted and as a voting member of your constituency I guarantee you I will remember your failure to stand up for public education, failure to stand for the truth, and complete failure to do what you were elected to do. I will remember it every day and I am not alone. We the people are paying attention and we will remember this moment when you are up for re-election.

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  • Paul
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Thank you Senate Democrats for doing your best to stop the confirmation of Betsy Devos. Even though she has been appointed there are still many ways to stop her from destroying public schools. You have thousands of teacher allies that are ready to support you. -Paul Smith-Stewart

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  • Lafonda
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Your confirmation of Betsy DeVos is shameful in every way. We will remember your blatant disregard for our nation's children when it's time to vote next November.

    Like (52)
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  • notorious
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Thank you to the Democrats and the 2 Republicans who stood up for our nation's students. Apparently education is a partisan issue. To the rest of the Republican Party... you've failed us, and we will remember.

    Like (47)
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  • Ryan
    02/07/2017
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    This is another example of our Reps doing what's best FOR THEM and NOT the people. If you voted for Devos I am NOT voting for you next time.

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  • SandiDeMitaDalomba
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Thank you to every Democratic Senator for voting No on DeVos. We are mad yet grateful to you at the same time for your hard fight and listening to the interests of the people. Thank you for the 2 Republicans who did the right thing. We look forward to the impeachment of Trump. The resignation of DeVos , Sessions and the entire cabinet of Trump, including clearing out the nepotism and exploitation for profit in the White House. 2018 can not come soon enough

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  • DeanMartian
    02/07/2017
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    This is a remarkable example of corruption in government. This appointment was made against the will of the people, and driven by money and blind party loyalty. Betsy DeVos' qualifications for this position, or lack thereof, were made VERY clear during her interviews. I was embarrassed for her as I watched. Bears?! Seriously, bears?! For those who fought against this insult to America's future generations, thank you. For those who voted this unqualified joke in, your political careers will hopefully end with this highly irresponsible act. We will not forget.

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  • Jesus
    02/07/2017
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    Jeff Flake and John McCain I will do whatever I can to make sure this will be your last term. DeVos will hurt our children's education. Enough of this party line voting and vote for what's best for the country.

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  • Makayla
    02/07/2017
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    Senator Portman: As a student of an Ohio public high school I am extremely disappointed in your choice to disregard the best interest of myself and other young Ohioans. We will not forget this when the time for reelections arrives.

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  • Douglas
    02/07/2017
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    Senators Alexander, Corker and every other republican senator who voted for Betsy DeVos. You have failed us and sold our children's future to the highest bidder (donor to your campaigns ). Shame on you!

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  • Nicole
    02/07/2017
    ···

    I am honestly disgusted at the power hungry actions taken by my senators today. You did not represent America or your constituents. You represented your own self interests and toed the party line regardless of what is best for the children of America. I am ashamed to be from Georgia.

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  • Kim
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Senators Cornyn and Cruz, be warned. Your seats in the senate are now going to be under siege because you obviously have zero regard for what your constituents want and need. It is incomprehensible why you would vote for a woman who is so clearly unqualified for the position in which she was nominated and now you both will pay the price. You have shown with your votes for Betsy DeVos that you love your party more than the American people you serve. We the people will put people in your seats who will listen to their constituents and vote accordingly. You both are an embarrassment to those you claim to represent. Myself and everyone I know will work to ensure that in 2 years, you will not retain your positions.

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  • Hoyt
    02/07/2017
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    It is WILDLY irresponsible to blatantly ignore your constituents as a representative of the people of the United States. I will NOT consider any current senator for reelection who voted yes on someone so insanely unqualified to head our children's future. Shame on these men and women who want to consider themselves anymore more than cowards to political peer pressure.

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  • Jan
    02/07/2017
    ···

    Thank you Senators Durbin and Duckworth for voting against confirmation of Betsy DeVos. I appreciate your standing up for quality education for ALL students. Republican counterparts should be ashamed that they allowed her to buy her way into a Cabinet post. Continue to stand strong as the rest of the Cabinet picks face confirmation. Do not be nicer to the Republicans than the Republicans were for the past eight years.

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