Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary ― the first time a vice president’s tie-breaking vote has been used for a Cabinet confirmation.
Betsy DeVos garnered a 50-50 tie from senators, with all 48 Democrats in the chamber and two Republicans voting against her. The vote came after Democrats held the Senate floor for 24 hours straight, in hopes of pressuring another Republican to join their side.
Senate Dems protest to keep the failed status quo. Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!
DeVos has weathered a particularly controversial confirmation hearing. Her nomination inspired intense backlash from parents and teachers on both sides of the political aisle. After Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) announced last week that they would be voting against DeVos, other Republican senators faced a barrage of calls from constituents urging them to similarly flip. Protests sprung up around the nation, also taking issue with DeVos’ seeming lack of qualifications for the job.
Still, with the exception of Murkowski and Collins, Republicans toed the party line, creating the type of political gridlock that is rare for votes on Cabinet secretary confirmations.
DeVos ― who comes from a billionaire Michigan family ― inspired opposition from teachers unions and public education advocates after her nomination was first announced in November. However, after she had what many saw as a lackluster and embarrassing performance at her confirmation hearing, the calls of those opposing her grew louder. DeVos was mocked for her comment that schools might need guns to ward off grizzly bear attacks and for her seeming lack of familiarity with mainstream education concepts and laws.