It looks like there will be a 50-50 tie, as the senate votes to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. As a result, Vice President Mike Pence is almost sure to cast a first-ever, tie-breaking vote to confirm a Cabinet nominee. Of all President Trump’s Cabinet nominees, Michigan’s DeVos is the most controversial. As a longtime advocate of school vouchers and alternatives to the public school program, DeVos has become public enemy No. 1 to the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and other unions for public school teachers and employees.
Last week, with more than 1 million letters flooding Capitol Hill calling for DeVos’s defeat, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins announced they would vote no on confirmation. With all 48 Senate Democrats publicly in opposition to the nominee, the two GOP defections point to a 50-50 tie that will necessitate Pence’s tie breaker.
On Friday, Newsmax asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer whether the administration’s congressional affairs team was working any Senate Democrats to shore up the 50 votes DeVos has.
“I hope that vote gets 60, 70 votes,” Spicer told us. “[DeVos] is an unbelievable, remarkable woman who has fought very hard to improve our nation’s education system and to make sure that schools are serving children.”
The president’s top spokesman added that “we are going to make sure we do everything we can, and we feel 100 percent confident that she will be confirmed Monday and be the next secretary of education.”
Prior to DeVos, the closest the Senate ever came to a tie on a Cabinet nominee was on March 10, 1925. When the Senate was debating the nomination of President Coolidge’s choice of Charles Warren to be attorney general, all signs were that the vote would be tied.
Republican senators went to the nearby Willard Hotel, where Vice President Charles Dawes was taking a nap. They awakened him and got him back to the Senate. But by then, the lone Democratic senator supporting Warren had switched his vote to no, and thus killed Warren’s nomination by one vote.