WASHINGTON, D.C.– It’s getting heated in the capitol. In back-to-back speeches today, Republican Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) announced they will oppose Betsy DeVos becoming Secretary of Education.
They are the first Republicans to break with their party and President Trump over any of his Cabinet picks. And they could be the deciding factor, making it difficult for DeVos to win confirmation.
If all 48 Senate Democrats vote against DeVos, plus the two Independents who caucus with them, the vote could be split in a 50-50 tie. That tie would be broken by Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as Senate President.
But, in the meantime, both DeVos supporters and dissenters will likely be working to pick off members of the other party.
Today, Sen. Collins (R-Maine) questioned DeVos’ experience, saying, “She appears to view education through the lens of her experience of promoting alternatives to public education in Detroit and other cities.” Collins also criticized DeVos’ ability to help the majority of students, by claiming she’d rather “concentrate on charter schools and vouchers.”
Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) also questioned DeVos’ experience, claiming she “has much to learn about our nation’s public schools.” She wrapped up her time on the Senate floor, saying, “I do not intend to vote on final passage to support Ms. DeVos to be Secretary of Education.”
But the White House isn’t getting flustered. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters today, “I have 100 percent confidence she will be the next Secretary of Education.”
Spicer added, “I think the games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad,” calling her an “unbelievably qualified educator and advocate for students, teachers, and parents.”
[NOTE: Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) both plan on supporting DeVos, while Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) plan on voting against her.]