In a close 51-50 vote, “the ayes have it,” said Vice President Mike Pence after serving as the tie breaker in Betsy DeVos’ contentious confirmation hearing.
Weary Senate Democrats sat defeated after losing their 24-hour speaking protest against the nominee, during which Senator Cory Booker urged colleagues to vote “no” on DeVos. "Instead of taking that opportunity, instead of seizing the moment to talk about what she would be doing to lead, she actually denied a role to the federal government," Booker warned in a statement last night, referring to DeVos's statement on students with disabilities.
Only two Republican senators broke with party lines, despite reports of senators being flooded with calls to reject the nominee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska), who both expressed strong concerns about Devos’ qualifications, voted “no” in the final confirmation hearing.
Immediately following the vote, DeVos Tweeted her thanks for the opportunity to serve: “I appreciate the Senate's diligence & am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let's improve options & outcomes for all US students.”
DeVos, a school voucher fan, said in the past that she supports charter school expansion, is not a fan of Common Core, and believes that technology has a role to play in the classroom. Early critics expressed concern over DeVos’s lack of experience and knowledge of public schools, including AFT President Randi Weingarten. During her public Senate questioning on Jan. 18, DeVos responded to public school advocates with the following statement: “If confirmed, I will be a strong advocate for great public schools. But, if a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child—perhaps they have a special need that is going unmet—we should support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high quality alternative.”