Betsy DeVos confirmation: Democrats to pull all-nighter to stop Trump's Education Secretary nominee

Only one Republican needs to vote against DeVos to deny her the job

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The Independent US

Senate Democrats have launched a 24-hour protest to convince one final Republican to vote against Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos

The billionaire chosen by President Donald Trump to run the US education system, despite her lack of experience in the field, has faced the most opposition of the Cabinet appointees. The Senate is currently split 50-50 on confirming Ms DeVos to the post as two Republicans broke with their party to decide against her. 

If Democratic senators fail to secure one last Republican vote against Ms DeVos, Vice President Mike Pence will issue the tie-breaking vote in favour of the former Michigan Republican Party chair and anti-public school lobbyist.

“Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours, until the final vote, to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us,” said Washington state Sen Patty Murray. 

Last week, Ms DeVos made it through committee with votes along the party line. 

The Best of Bernie Sanders' grilling of Betsy DeVos in her Senate nomination hearing for Education Secretary

"In my mind, she is the least-qualified nominee in a historically unqualified Cabinet. On conflicts of interest she ranks among the worst," said Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer from the floor. "She seems to constantly demand the main purpose of her job: public education."

"We need just one more vote, and we can get a lot better Secretary of Education than the one who was nominated."

During her confirmation hearing, Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders grilled Ms DeVos on whether she would have received the nomination for the Education Secretary spot had her family not donated $200m to Republicans throughout her career. 

“Senator, as a matter of fact, I do think there would be that possibility,” she responded. “I’ve worked very hard on behalf of parents and children for the last, almost, 30 years.” d

But she struggled with a series of questions about her advocacy for school voucher programmes for private schools, her position on student debt, and comments she made about states’ rights to determine whether they should provide an education to students with disabilities. 

She later walked back that statement, saying that she had been “confused” by the  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – a civil rights bedrock that has been in place for decades.