The Senate voted 51-50 including a tie breaker from Vice President Pence to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Photo: Betsy DeVos
A 50-50 vote tie was broken by Vice President Mike Pence to approve DeVos.
After widespread opposition from both the public and Senate Democrats, a full vote in the Senate tied at 50-50, requiring a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. The motion to approve DeVos' nomination then passed 51-50.
Overnight, Senate Democrats led an offensive to the nomination, speaking in sequence to attempt to convince their colleagues across the aisle to vote against.
As we reported, the vote was likely to come down to a tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence, but only one additional Republican vote against DeVos was needed to defeat the nomination. The final vote of 51-50 was reached with a vote from Pence.
Organizations across the country including the Association of Texas Professional Educators spoke against the nomination, saying that DeVos lacked the qualifications needed for the position and also had conflicts of interest due to personal business dealings in the private school industry. This, they argued, meant that DeVos would not be an appropriate leader or advocate for the nation's public education system.
Republican senators by-and-large spoke against opposition efforts by Senate Democrats. In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn called the tactics used by his fellow senators "juvenile" and called for Democrats not to "slow walk" the confirmation process. A post to Cornyn's official Facebook page Monday argued in favor of DeVos, saying "power over education should be handed back down to the states," in order to allow parents more options on "how best to accomplish our universal goal of making sure every child has a good education."
At least two Senate Republicans had announced by Monday that they would vote against the nomination, however, closing the margin between the two parties to a final vote of 50-50 before Vice President Pence's tie-breaking vote.