2 GOP senators break with Trump, will oppose DeVos

Two Republican senators came out on Monday against confirming President Trump's choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made back-to-back floor speeches in the Senate announcing their opposition.

The Hill:

The defections set up a potential 51-50 vote in the Senate to confirm DeVos, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie.

It would be the first time a vice president has been the deciding vote on a nomination, and the first time a vice president has had to break a Senate tie since March 2008, when Vice President Dick Cheney cast a deciding vote on a package of tax cuts.

DeVos’s nomination will move before Sen. Jeff Sessions’s nod as attorney general to ensure that the Alabama Republican can cast a vote for Trump’s Education pick. 

The Senate could take a final vote on DeVos as soon as Friday, though Democrats are expected to use the Senate’s procedural roadblocks to drag the fight over DeVos into the weekend or early next week.

Republicans expressed confidence that there will be no more defections. They can’t afford any, as no Democrats are set to back DeVos.

“I expect her to be confirmed,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters. “You can take that to the bank.”

The White House also said it has “zero” concern over DeVos’s nomination being in jeopardy.

“I have 100 percent confidence she will be the next secretary of Education,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily briefing with reporters.

He added, “The games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad.”

DeVos, a GOP mega-donor long active on education issues, has been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers unions and other liberal groups opposed to her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers using public funds. Senators in both parties have also criticized her lack of experience with public and rural education.

Liberals made DeVos a top target and sought to jam Republican phone lines with protests over her nomination. Credo Action’s vice president and political director, Murshed Zaheed, told The Hill that its members made 18,000 calls to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including specifically targeting Collins, Murkowski and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

According to Politico, both senators waited to announce their opposition until 50 GOP senators had been locked up.  This is a common tactic on the Hill, especially on controversial issues, where the leadership will grant members a right to oppose a vote only after its passage had been assured.

Murkowski and Collins echoed Democratic complaints about DeVos in their floor speeches: no experience with public schools and her support for vouchers for students in poorer neighborhoods.  But the political reality is that both Maine and Alaska have powerful teachers unions who could make big trouble for the senators if they run for re-election.

Trump's confidence in confirming DeVos is not misplaced as long as Senator McConnell can round up every single GOP supporter of DeVos.  Otherwise, he'll be forced to delay the vote until he is absolutely sure of success.

Two Republican senators came out on Monday against confirming President Trump's choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made back-to-back floor speeches in the Senate announcing their opposition.

The Hill:

The defections set up a potential 51-50 vote in the Senate to confirm DeVos, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie.

It would be the first time a vice president has been the deciding vote on a nomination, and the first time a vice president has had to break a Senate tie since March 2008, when Vice President Dick Cheney cast a deciding vote on a package of tax cuts.

DeVos’s nomination will move before Sen. Jeff Sessions’s nod as attorney general to ensure that the Alabama Republican can cast a vote for Trump’s Education pick. 

The Senate could take a final vote on DeVos as soon as Friday, though Democrats are expected to use the Senate’s procedural roadblocks to drag the fight over DeVos into the weekend or early next week.

Republicans expressed confidence that there will be no more defections. They can’t afford any, as no Democrats are set to back DeVos.

“I expect her to be confirmed,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters. “You can take that to the bank.”

The White House also said it has “zero” concern over DeVos’s nomination being in jeopardy.

“I have 100 percent confidence she will be the next secretary of Education,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily briefing with reporters.

He added, “The games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad.”

DeVos, a GOP mega-donor long active on education issues, has been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers unions and other liberal groups opposed to her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers using public funds. Senators in both parties have also criticized her lack of experience with public and rural education.

Liberals made DeVos a top target and sought to jam Republican phone lines with protests over her nomination. Credo Action’s vice president and political director, Murshed Zaheed, told The Hill that its members made 18,000 calls to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including specifically targeting Collins, Murkowski and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

According to Politico, both senators waited to announce their opposition until 50 GOP senators had been locked up.  This is a common tactic on the Hill, especially on controversial issues, where the leadership will grant members a right to oppose a vote only after its passage had been assured.

Murkowski and Collins echoed Democratic complaints about DeVos in their floor speeches: no experience with public schools and her support for vouchers for students in poorer neighborhoods.  But the political reality is that both Maine and Alaska have powerful teachers unions who could make big trouble for the senators if they run for re-election.

Trump's confidence in confirming DeVos is not misplaced as long as Senator McConnell can round up every single GOP supporter of DeVos.  Otherwise, he'll be forced to delay the vote until he is absolutely sure of success.

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