Senate confirms Betsy DeVos as education secretary following historic tie-breaking vote. (Al Drago/The New York Times)
Minnesota’s two U.S. senators cast their votes against President Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. DeVos was confirmed in the tightest vote in history for a cabinet nominee, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the first-ever tie-breaking vote.
50 Republican senators voted in favor of DeVos, and 50 senators — the Democrats, Independents and two Republicans — voted against her confirmation.
DeVos has faced sharp criticism from Minnesota education advocates who say the Michigan billionaire lacks the experience to lead the Department of Education.
She has supported voucher programs that use public money to finance privately-run schools. Others back her for her stance on school choice.
Senate Democrats spent the last 24 hours debating DeVos’s confirmation in the hopes of swaying Republican votes.
Minnesota’s senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., gave DeVos a “no” vote.
Following the vote, Klobuchar expressed concern in a statement that DeVos does not share the value of high-quality education. Klobuchar said DeVos’s comments during her hearing suggest that the education secretary pick does not support protections offered to students under the Disabilities Education Act.
“Now that she has been confirmed, it is important that we hold Ms. DeVos accountable in upholding the value of education for all students,” she said in a statement.
Franken said in a statement Tuesday that education secretary isn’t “a job for amateurs who don’t know the first thing about education.”
“I voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, because she is the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen,” he said in the statement.
Some Minnesotans cheered DeVos’s confirmation, like Kim Crockett, who serves roles including vice president at conservative Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment.
“DeVos will introduce competition and new ideas desperately needed in public education,” Crockett said in a statement from the group.
Crockett added in a phone interview that the education department won't be glad to see DeVos, and DeVos will have to battle “well-funded opponents.”