Alaska’s senior senator Lisa Murkowski is in the midst of a bold stand against the Trump administration, promising to vote against the president’s nominee for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. As The Hill explains it, one way or another the drama is likely to play out to its conclusion this week.
Senators are scheduled to take a final vote Tuesday on Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Education secretary nominee. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) announced last week they are breaking rank and voting against the nominee.
With no Democrats expected to support DeVos, it will be the first time ever a vice president has cast the deciding vote on a nominee. It will also be the first time a vice president has been brought in to resolve a 50-50 split since then-Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in on a tax proposal in 2008.
DeVos, a GOP megadonor, has been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers unions and other liberal groups over her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers using public funds.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is hoping at least one more Republican will vote against DeVos to torpedo her nomination.
“I ask my colleagues to look into their conscience. Sometimes loyalty to a new president demands a bit too much,” he said from the Senate floor on Friday. “Please think about it over the weekend. This person, Ms. DeVos, does not deserve be the Secretary of Education.”
But opponents are running out of time to find a crucial third Republican to help them sink DeVos. Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), John Hoeven(N.D.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Deb Fischer (Neb.) — each considered potential candidates to flip and oppose DeVos — announced late last week that they would support Trump’s nominee.
“Too many American kids are being left behind every day. That is not acceptable to Betsy DeVos, and it is not acceptable to me,” Toomey said in a statement, adding that he was “pleased to confirm” DeVos.
The Senate will spend the rest of the week working through a slate of Trump nominees considered most controversial by Democrats.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) teed up three more nominations after senators wrap up their work on DeVos: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to be attorney general; Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), to lead the Department of Health and Human Services; and Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary.
Republicans are threatening to keep senators in late, and potentially through the weekend, to get the nominees confirmed. Trump his heading into his third week with only seven nominees confirmed — the same number that former President Obama had confirmed during his first day in 2009.
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