After facing some tough criticism from the Senate in Washington and constituents around the country, Betsy DeVos has finally been confirmed as education secretary, The New York Times reports. She needed 51 votes to get the position, and the only way she got there was from a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence. One more Republican vote against her would have ended her chances.
DeVos is an education activist, but has never actually worked in education. As a wealthy donor from Michigan, she's been a big supporter of parents being able to choose the rights school for their children, but she has no experience whatsoever with public schools (neither she nor her children even attended one). She strongly believes that the government should financially support parents who wish to send their children to private schools, Cosmopolitan reports. This was a problem for many senators, including two Republicans who voted against her nomination.
The Times says that these two Republicans, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski, gave speeches on the floor last week to share why they don't support DeVos. They both feel she's not knowledgeable enough about the public school system and the laws in place to protect students. Their opposition also shows that there are members of the Republican party who aren't fully on board with Trump's decisions, meaning some of his policies might have a hard time gaining support—but perhaps not that hard of a time, given that not even one more Republican could be convinced to go against the nominee, despite vehement attempts by constituents, activists and other senators.
When the vote was tied at 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence was called in to give the tie-breaking vote. This was the first time a vice president has ever been called in to do this for a cabinet nomination.