Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with almost no experience in public education, was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s education secretary on Tuesday, but only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after weeks of protests and two defections within her own party.
The 51-to-50 vote capped an all-night vigil on the Senate floor, where, one by one, Democrats denounced Ms. DeVos to a mostly empty chamber. But they did not get a third Republican defection that would have stopped Ms. DeVos — a billionaire who has devoted much of her life to promoting charter schools and vouchers — from becoming the steward of the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools.
It was the first time a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination.
Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, demanded before the vote that Republicans explain how they could support Ms. DeVos. “If we cannot set aside party loyalty long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the president’s nominees, what are we even doing here?” Mr. Franken asked.
Uhhh...she was vetted plenty, Al. You just didn't like the answers you heard.
The two Republicans who voted against the nominee, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said Ms. DeVos was unqualified because of a lack of familiarity with public schools and with laws meant to protect students.
Yeah, their opposition probably had nothing to do with the fact both are recipients of campaign contributions from teachers unions. Nope. NoSireeeBob. No factor at all.
For many educators, Ms. DeVos’s support for charter schools and vouchers — which allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private, religious and for-profit schools — reflected a deep disconnect from public schools. Neither Ms. DeVos nor any of her children attended a public school.
Say, has anybody taken a survey of those senators who voted against Mrs. DeVos to determine how many of their kids have attended a public school? I'm sure the NY Times will get around to it (HA! I slay me).
What makes this whole outrage even more asinine is the idea that a Secretary of Education has the ability to draft laws impacting public schools. I guess those who hold that belief were absent from their public school the day the virtues of co-equal branches of government were taught in civics class.
Look, I'm not here to make a case for Mrs. DeVos's credibility for the job. I don't have to. What I do know is there have been untold billions spent by the Federal government on public education over the past several years with no discernible improvement in student achievement. If the DeVos appointment is merely to make the case why a Federal Dept. of Education should cease to exist (and thus cede control to local governments), then it will have been more than worth it.
By the way, don't ya just love how Sen. Franken, who was the proverbial church mouse during the Obama years, is suddenly the darling of the left? There's even been speculation that his grandstanding during the DeVos confirmation hearings was a precursor to a Presidential run in 2020. I will be paying rapt attention to those proggies who were so outraged over Donald Trump's misogynistic tendencies but then suddenly start fawning over Franken, who freely joked about rape. Believe me, I can think of at least dozen people in my social media feeds alone who lamented Trump daily but are now heaping praise upon Franken. Should be fun.