Betsy DeVos is confirmed as the United States’ Education Secretary in a tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence. In common practice, presidential cabinet nominees must be approved by the Senate. In most cases, this acts a formality for many Senate members, who will vote based on party lines. The Senate vote for Betsy DeVos is historic, however.
Two Republican Senators voted against Betsy, creating a tie. In the instance of a tie with a cabinet nominee, the Senate looks to the President of the Senate: the Vice President of The United States. In all Senate votes, the Vice President is not eligible to ever vote unless there is a tie. In this case, the Senate was divided 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote, bringing the totals to 51-50 in confirmation of Betsy DeVos.
Of all of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations, electing Betsy DeVos was the most difficult nomination yet. Democrats were eager to stop any of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, and were able to get two Republican senators to vote against Betsy. The two Republican senators that did not vote for Betsy was Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Both senators had “serious concerns” with Donald Trump’s Education Secretary pick.
Betsy DeVos’ Senate confirmation process was problematic to start. In her confirmation hearing, a standard procedure for cabinet nominees to be vetted by the Senate, Betsy seemed to be in support of guns in schools — in the case of a grizzly attack in Wyoming. In the case of nomination, Betsy also neither confirmed nor denied her support of the removal of public funds to be used for schools across the nation.
According to NBC News, Betsy DeVos is quoted as saying in regards to this topic, “I look forward, if confirmed, to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students,” she said. “We acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them, and I’m hopeful that we can work together to find common ground and ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them.”
Senator Murray replied, “I take that as not be willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education.”
“I guess I wouldn’t characterize it in that way,” DeVos said.
Betsy DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist and has given substantially to the GOP, and particularly in support of education. Betsy has also been elected chairman of the Michigan Republican Party four different times. Betsy is most known, however, for being a staunch supporter of “school choice.”
Opponents state that this is another way of saying that Betsy is against publicly funded schools. This is, however, not exactly how this concept is defined. School choice would allow public education funds to allow students to go where their needs are best met. This is all-inclusive and accommodates charters, public schools, home schools, and private schools.
Another concern is whether or not Betsy will be supportive of the Common Core, or push for national education standards that are simply not called “Common Core.” On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised America that he would get rid of Common Core. This is, in fact, not possible since Common Core is not a federally mandated program. Betsy DeVos has previously served as a board member of The Foundation for Excellence in Education. This foundation reports to Jeb Bush, who participated in the Republican nomination race. It also supports the Common Core standards.
Everyone is certainly holding their breath to see how Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will hopefully improve America’s education during her term.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]