The Senate has only rejected a first-term president's cabinet nominee once before, but it may be heading in that direction for a second time if Democrats get their way. President Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education has thus far proven to be a controversial pick. But which senators oppose confirming Betsy DeVos?
DeVos' nomination was approved on Jan. 31 by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, but she almost didn't make it past that stage. The committee voted 12-11, down party lines, and it seems as though the Senate as a whole will be taking a partisan approach to DeVos' nomination as well. The vast majority of Republican senators will likely be voting for DeVos, with the exception of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the New York Times reported. The 46 Senate Democrats, as well as two Senate independents, will vote against her as well, according to USA Today. Along with Collins and Murkowski, this means that there could be a 50-50 tie in the final vote.
Of course, due to his role as Senate President, Vice President Mike Pence could serve as the tie-breaking vote. But there is still the possibility that another Senate Republican could decide to vote against DeVos.
"I think Mrs. DeVos has much to learn about our nation's public schools," Murkowski told USA Today. Collins echoed this sentiment, telling the Washington Post that she is "concerned that Mrs. DeVos’s lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist with those challenges, particularly for our rural schools in states like Maine."
If DeVos is confirmed as Education Secretary, she would be the first person in that position to have been neither a public school parent nor a public school student, according to Education Week. DeVos, a billionaire businesswoman and Republican campaign contributor, also doesn't have experience teaching in a K-12 school or college, Education Week reported.
While supported by the majority of her own party in the Senate, DeVos has faced backlash from other sources. The National Education Association told USA Today that 1.1 million people had contacted their lawmakers to tell them not to confirm DeVos through the association's online form. Additionally, close to 359,000 people have signed a Change.org petition against DeVos' confirmation.
A date for the final confirmation vote has not been set yet, but the suspense is definitely building.