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Defections Put DeVos Nomination in Peril

02 February 2017

After a senate committee narrowly approved Betsy DeVos for the education secretary nominee, two GOP senators have announced that they will not support DeVos when the times comes to vote for her appointment.

Two Republican senators are saying Wednesday they will not support Betsy DeVos as US education secretary, leaving the MI billionaire's appointment to President Donald Trump's cabinet in doubt.

Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced in floor speeches that they would not support DeVos, a charter school advocate and supporter of school vouchers. If Democrats hold firm and no more Republicans join them, the nominee would face a 50-50 Senate vote with Vice President Mike Pence holding a tie-breaking vote.

Public opposition to DeVos is unusually fierce, said Mary Kusler, lobbyist for the National Education Association, a large union that said constituents sent 1 million emails and placed 40,000 calls to senators decrying the nomination.

"As a former Governor, I understand how crucial it is for an executive leader to have his team in place, but I have serious concerns about the qualifications of Betsy DeVos". Jeff Sessions to be attorney general got in the way.

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Most Democrats have already announced that they plan to oppose DeVos as well.

"I have heard from thousands, truly thousands, of Alaskans who shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos as secretary of education", she said.

At her confirmation hearing last month, she pledged to address "the needs of all parents and students", but said a one-size-fits-all model doesn't work in education. If one additional Republican defects, DeVos' nomination would be squashed. "But it is a response to the most unusual nomination of a person to lead a federal department who has no relevant skills or experience, but instead has expressed open hostility to the students she is nominated to serve".

Murkowski at a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions warned that her vote for DeVos was in doubt. However, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said, "I am 100 percent confident she will be the next secretary of education". Therefore, I will continue to evaluate this nomination before it comes to the floor, even as I vote today to advance it so that all of our colleagues have the opportunity to assess this nominee. It reported that DeVos is a "billionaire who has spent decades advocating for charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers".

No Democrats or Independents are expected to vote for the wealthy philanthropist, who has come under fire for her negligible relevant experience for the post overseeing the nation's K-12 public schools and higher education system.

Defections Put DeVos Nomination in Peril