Republicans rammed through the unqualified nomination of Betsy DeVos as Vice President Mike Pence was forced to break the 50-50 Senate tie, as the Trump privatization of public education has begun.
All 48 Senate Democrats voted against the nomination. They were joined by Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The remaining 50 Republicans all voted for DeVos.
Before the vote, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said the DeVos has not been involved in public schools and approaches education as winners and losers in the private market.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said that schools can’t be run as a for-profit business. Murray also noted that DeVos wanted to change the system so that schools are no longer accountable for the tax dollars that they receive.”
Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) summed up the Democrats’ issues with the DeVos nomination, “Of course there should be discussion about her. She shouldn’t be the nominee. I understand our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. It’s a new President. My guess, Mr. President, if you went in their cloakroom and heard their whispers, our Republican colleagues are saying I wish he could have come up someone else because Betsy DeVos is the negative trifecta. Negative on competence. She doesn’t even understand the basic aspects of education. Negative on philosophy. She disdains public education where — 90% of our kids are — and negative on ethics. Her conflicts of interest are legion and she hasn’t, like some other cabinet nominees, tried to erase them. So of course there should be a tremendous amount of discussion.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions argued for privatization of the public school system and said that DeVos has no conflicts of interest. Alexander argued that DeVos is a public school reformer, and Trump deserves a chance to appoint his own education secretary.
The DeVos vote was the first time in history that a confirmation vote had to be broken by the Vice President. This was also the first time that a vice president had to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate in nine years. The previous record for closest Education Secretary confirmation vote was 49-40, which happened last year.
DeVos was nominated by Trump to destroy the public education system. Betsy DeVos is public enemy number one of the public education system. Senate Democrats fought their hearts out and stayed on the Senate floor for more than 24 hours in an attempt to sway one more Republican to vote against DeVos.
With one historic vote by Vice President Pence, the dismantling of the public education system in the United States has begun.