President Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to become his education secretary was sent on Jan. 31 to the full U.S. Senate for confirmation on a tight 12-11 party-line vote in committee after a fractious debate over her qualifications.

The vote on the nomination of DeVos, a controversial figure in Michigan politics and education, raised hackles among Democrats, who argued throughout a contentious hearing two weeks ago and this most recent voting session that she knows too little about federal education policy and would undermine public schools.

Republicans, in the majority in both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the full Senate, defended her as being committed to children even if she has been a key supporter of school choice and vouchers–though two GOP members signaled that their votes in the committee did not necessarily guarantee support on the Senate floor.

A vote for final confirmation in the Senate has not yet been scheduled. Immediately after the vote, Democrats moved to overturn the vote because a proxy vote in favor was made for U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who was not in the committee room. A vote to overturn the vote was rejected after Hatch showed up in the committee room to effectively confirm the vote.

(Next page: Democrats raise questions over DeVos’ qualifications; some Republicans are unsure of their final vote)


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