Senate Republicans, without a vote to lose and facing mounting pressure from an aggressive opposition campaign, were confident they have the votes to confirm Betsy DeVos as President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education.
The vote is expected early Tuesday afternoon.
Democrats on Monday intensified their already-vigorous assault on the nomination. They argued against DeVos’ nomination through the night and into the work day Tuesday on the floor of the Senate. This came after a week during which the Michigan businesswoman’s opponents tied up phone lines all over the Capitol and in members’ state offices. There were occassional rumors through the night that Democrats and the other opponents of DeVos nomination had flipped the single Republican vote they needed to defeat her. But there was no proof that vote actually existed in the hours leading up to the decision.
I’m confident we’ll get Ms. DeVos confirmed soon.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
DeVos, identified most frequently as a wealthy Republican Party donor, charter school advocate and not a friend of public schools, appears set for a 50-50 tie vote in the Senate on Tuesday. A tie means the decision is left to Vice President Mike Pence, who will certainly vote yes.
Republican Senate insiders were insisting Monday she would be confirmed. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he was confident.
Teachers, parents and activists who have been swamping Senate office switchboards worked furiously Monday to find another Republican renegade. Republicans control 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have said they will oppose DeVos.
DeVos’ “lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to understand, identify and assist with those challenges, particularly for our rural schools in states like Maine,” Collins said.
Murkowski said she had been swayed by “the thousands of Alaskans” she’d spoken to who opposed the nomination.
Democrats were united in their opposition. “A vote for Betsy DeVos is a vote for a Sec of Education who is likely to succeed only in further dividing us on education issues,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., tweeted.
There were rumblings that a third Republican could emerge.
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said late Monday that he’d vote yes.
Because he hadn’t officially announced his position through most of the day, he was targeted by individuals and groups opposed to DeVos’ nomination. His office was getting a steady flow of calls urging him to vote no.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also anticipated as a yes vote, was another target of the opponents. In early January he called DeVos a “strong choice” for the office.
“Ms. DeVos understands we need less Washington, D.C., in our schools, and I look forward to working with her to ensure the next generation has access to a world-class education,” he said at the time.
His office also was inundated with anti-DeVos calls Monday, and his spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Colorado voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday afternoon called DeVos a “well qualified candidate” and said she would “be our students’ foremost advocate.”
He said he had “every confidence” that she “will lead the Department of Education in such a way that will put our students’ interests first” and he urged “colleagues to join in confirming” her.