Senate set for high-noon vote to confirm DeVos – The Hill
The Senate is poised to vote on Betsy DeVosâs confirmation as secretary of Education atÂ noonÂ Tuesday, with Vice President Pence possibly casting a tie-breaking vote backing President Trumpâs controversial Cabinet pick.
Republicans have only 50 votes behind DeVos with the defections of GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsFranken: DeVos ‘fundamentally incompetent’ to lead Education Dept. Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiFranken: DeVos ‘fundamentally incompetent’ to lead Education Dept. Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos MORE (Alaska), which could lead to a historic moment for Pence.He would be the first vice president to ever cast a decisive vote in a 50-50 tie over confirming a Cabinet nominee.
Pence would also be the first vice president to break a Senate tie since 2008, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney cast a vote on a tax adjustment plan.
No Democrats are backing DeVos, and no other Republicans are expected to break with her, despite a last-ditch effort by the minority party to put pressure on the GOP.
Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.),Â John HoevenJohn HoevenDem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Schumer to GOP: Work with us to block Betsy DeVos MOREÂ (N.D.),Â Dean HellerDean HellerDem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Schumer to GOP: Work with us to block Betsy DeVos MOREÂ (Nev.) andÂ Deb FischerDeb FischerDem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Schumer to GOP: Work with us to block Betsy DeVos MOREÂ (Neb.) â each considered potential swing votes â have announced their support for DeVos.
Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerBooker: ‘No confidence’ on DeVos’s support for civil rights office This week: Confirmation showdown looms in Senate Pelosi dodges on need for new Democratic leadership MORE (D-N.Y.)Â on MondayÂ pled with Republicans from the Senate floor, urging them not to put âparty above country.â
âWe need just one more vote, and we can get a lot better secretary of Education than the one who was nominated,â Schumer said.
Democrats have targeted eight Trump Cabinet picks, including DeVos, but Schumer argued that the Education pick is the âleast qualifiedâ of Trumpâs nominees.
DeVos, a GOP mega-donor long active on education issues, has been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers unions and other liberal groups opposed to her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers that use public funds.
She has also come under fire from Democrats over reports that several lines and phrases in her committee-submitted questionnaire appeared to be lifted without attribution from other sources.
And DeVosÂ endured a rocky confirmation hearing in which she at one point appeared to advocate for guns in school because of the possibility of a grizzly bear attack, at least in Wyoming.
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Warren: GOP ramming DeVos ‘down the throats of the American people’ GOP faces big decision on ObamaCare taxes MORE (D-Mass.) joined the Democratic floor protest, arguing âit is difficult to imagine a worse choiceâ to head up the department.
âThe Republicans have made it clear no matter her experience, no matter her radical views … they will ram this nomination down the throats of the American people sideways,â Warren, a possible presidential candidate in 2020, said during a nearly hourlong speech.
Warren saidÂ on MondayÂ that DeVosâs performance during her confirmation hearing â which was panned by pundits in both parties â was âshocking.â
âI assume that the rush to complete this nomination has something to do with the fact that Republicansâ phones have been ringing off the hook,â she added.
Liberals have sought to jam Republican phone lines with protests over DeVosâs nomination. Senators in both parties say they have received thousands, if not tens of thousands, of calls, emails and letters urging them to oppose the nomination.
Progressive groups, including the American Federation of Teachers and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, paired up with teachers and students to rally against DeVosâs nomination outside of the CapitolÂ on MondayÂ evening.
RepublicansÂ on MondayÂ said they were confident DeVos would win a victory on Tuesday.
âIâm confident weâll get Ms. DeVos confirmed soon,â said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Healthcare: Republicans say ObamaCare repeal starts this spring Senate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Republicans: ObamaCare repeal starts this spring MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican. âThen, thanks to former Democratic leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSenate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Feehery: Dem resistance is futile Judd Gregg: The filibuster cometh MORE … every single one of President Trumpâs Cabinet nominees will be confirmed. We can take that to the bank.â
In a 2013 decision, Democrats, led by the Nevada senator, decided to get rid of the higher 60-vote procedural threshold for lower-court nominees and Cabinet picks.
The Democratsâ decision made it easier to confirm some of Obamaâs nominees in 2013 and 2014, but under the old rules, DeVosâs confirmation almost certainly would have been blocked.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate set for high-noonÂ vote to confirm DeVos Press: Trump â to Russia with love McConnell: Give Gorsuch an up-or-down vote MORE (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for slow-walking Trumpâs nominees. Trump has gotten seven of his picks confirmed â the same number President Obama got confirmed on the first day of his administration in 2009.
âEnough is enough,â McConnell saidÂ on Monday. âItâs far past time to put the election behind us and put this Presidentâs Cabinet into place â just as previous Senates have done for previous newly elected Presidents of both parties.â
RepublicansÂ on MondayÂ noted that the pace of Trumpâs nominees is the slowest since George Washington, citing data from the Senate Historical Office.
The growing GOP frustration over the treatment of Trumpâs nominees comes after Republicans changed the rules on some committees to leapfrog Democratic boycotts and approve Trumpâs nominees without a Democrat present.
Cornyn â who has defended the GOP maneuvers â accused Democrats of playing âpetty politics.â
âThis type of behavior is pretty juvenile if you ask me, and it canât actually accomplish anything,â he said. âThey donât have any particular goal in mind because at the end of the day, the president will get the Cabinet that he has nominated and deserves.â