DeVos moves closer to confirmation


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Betsy DeVos moved closer toward confirmation as education secretary Friday after clearing a major hurdle in the Senate, even as Democrats and labor unions fervently sought another Republican vote against her.

Tensions flew on the Senate floor during an early-morning session, with a senior Republican saying DeVos will make an “excellent” secretary and a top Democrat calling her “one of the worst nominees.” Republicans overpowered Democrats, voting 52-48 to cut off debate on the nomination, setting the stage for a final vote Tuesday.

DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, has faced fierce criticism from labor unions for her promotion of school choice. Democrats and teachers’ organizations have accused her of seeking to dismantle public education and divert taxpayer money to charter schools and private school vouchers.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they would vote against her nomination, and others are being bombarded by phone calls and letters from parents and teachers across the country. If all Democrats vote against her and no other Republicans dissent, Vice President Mike Pence would have to break a 50-50 tie to gain DeVos’ confirmation.

DeVos, 59, is the wife of Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway marketing fortune. She has spent more than two decades advocating for charter schools in her home state of Michigan and elsewhere around the country. Her support of anti-LGBT organizations and her advocacy for conservative religious values have also caused concerns that she will be a weak advocate for the LGBT community and other minorities.

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