Two weeks into Donald Trump's presidency, the upcoming vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, his nominee for education secretary, could deliver the first big political blow to his short but rocky tenure. The Senate voted to advance Betsy DeVos' nomination early Friday morning, choosing to limit debate so that they can press on to a final vote.
The embattled Cabinet pick has faced heavy scrutiny during the confirmation process, with two Republican senators announcing they would oppose Devos' confirmation in the final vote. Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski took to the senate floor Thursday to share their personal concerns with DeVos' lack of experience and familiarity with traditional public schools. They also said that the feedback they've heard from constituents has been overwhelming, and resoundingly negative.
“I have heard from thousands, truly thousands of Alaskans who share their concerns about Mrs. DeVos as secretary of education. They contact me by phone, by email, in person and their concerns center, as mine do, on Mrs. DeVos’ lack of experience with public education and the lack of knowledge that she portrayed in her confirmation hearing,” Murkowski said.
Dean Heller, a Republican senator from Nevada, said Thursday that his phones have been ringing off the hook, encouraging his constituents to be patient as they call his office.
We are experiencing heavy call volumes in all our offices. Staff is answering as many as possible. Please continue calling to get through.
— Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller) February 2, 2017
The objection to DeVos' confirmation surrounds her advocacy for alternative education and school-choice — not to mention she is a billionaire who frequently contributes money to the Republican Party. The opposition against her has proven to be loud and constant; it has even gone mainstream, as late-night hosts have mocked DeVos' apparent unfitness.
Despite the palpable pushback, senate Republican leaders say that they’re confident they won’t lose another GOP vote, which means DeVos might get pushed through anyways. The final vote on DeVos’ nomination is expected on Monday or Tuesday.