With Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote Tuesday afternoon, Betsy DeVos is now Secretary of the Department of Education. There was a glimmer of hope on part of the Senate Democrats that one more Republican would come out against the confirmation of DeVos.
But the 50-50 vote, with senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska siding with the Democrats, the vice president’s vote was the tiebreaker. He is the first vice president to cast a decisive vote on a Cabinet nominee. In 2008, Vice President Dick Cheney broke a tie on tax legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led a night-long session to upend the confirmation, insisting that she was not qualified for the position. “It’s the Republican side demanding a vote for an unqualified candidate,” he said, before the confirmation occurred. He had deemed her a “negative trifecta.”
DeVos, said Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, “is fundamentally incompetent … I believe it may have been one of the most embarrassing performances by a nominee in the history of the United States. We would not accept a secretary of Defense who couldn’t name the branches of the military.”
What most incensed Franken and the other Democrats was not only her blatant ignorance of the public school system but also her intention to demolish it. Her outlook, according to public records, is one that supports vouchers, charter and parochial schools at the expense of public funding.
“This is a sad day for children,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “If she wants to work with the educators who work hard every single day—in districts as diverse as McDowell County, W.Va., Detroit, and Scarsdale, N.Y.—to provide children the opportunities they deserve, we renew our invitation to have her visit America’s public schools and see the strategies that work for kids.”
That might be wishful thinking because DeVos has professed an intention to privatize the public schools of the nation.
Tuesday was not a good news day for the anti-Trump legions, and the Democrats and America’s immigrants were bracing for yet another shock with the ruling on Trump’s immigration policy.