Yesterday, the U.S. Senate, by a narrow vote of 51-50, confirmed President Trump’s nomination for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. Initially, the vote was a 50-50 tie. All 48 Democratic Senators opposed the nomination, and two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who both sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined the opposition. However, Vice President Michael Pence, as President of the Senate, came to DeVos’ rescue and cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of her nomination. This was the first time a cabinet level nominee was confirmed by the vote of the Vice President.
In contrast to her Obama Administration predecessors John King and Arne Duncan, and Bush Administration predecessors, Margaret Spellings and Rod Paige, Secretary DeVos comes to the U.S. Department of Education without ever having worked in a public school. DeVos, nevertheless, is not a newcomer to politics or to education. She served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party between 1996 and 2005, and led two nonprofits that spent millions of dollars supporting policies and politicians sympathetic to voucher programs and charter schools around the country.
Now that the contentious confirmation process has concluded, be sure to check our blog for the latest news on Secretary DeVos’ policy agenda and additional appointments in the Department of Education.