Democrats Speaking for Next 24 Hours to Try to Derail Nomination of DeVos for ED Secretary
Senate Democrats are speaking on the floor of the chamber for the next 24 hours, in an effort to derail the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Education (ED).
“Now is the time to put country before party,” said Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) according to the Washington Post, urging Republican senators to join Democrats in opposing DeVos, a billionaire from Michigan known for supporting school choice, charter schools, vouchers and private and religious schools. She and her family are also major Republican donors.
DeVos’ confirmation vote is scheduled for noon ET Tuesday. All 48 Democrats in the Senate are expected to oppose her, along with two Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Democrats need just one more Republican to switch to defeat the nomination, and they are hoping this 24-hour speech-a-thon will do just that.
However, if no Republicans change their votes, and none has indicated that s/he will, the vote would put the Senate at an even 50-50 split. In that case, Vice President Mike Pence would be able to cast a tie-breaking vote and confirm DeVos as ED secretary — an event that has never before occurred for a cabinet nominee.
“We’re very confident that Betsy DeVos is going to be the next secretary of education, and it will be my high honor to cast the deciding vote on the floor of the Senate next week,” Pence said in an interview Sunday on Fox News.
Republican leaders, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), have defended DeVos as a conservative who will scale back the federal role in public education, which expanded under the Obama administration.
But critics have pointed out her many financial investments that could be conflicts of interest, her unfamiliarity with certain education issues, and her shaky performance during confirmation hearings in January.
DeVos also appears to have plagiarized from a former Obama administration official written answers that she submitted to the HELP committee.