President Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Department of Education is facing a confirmation crisis in the Senate after two Republicans announced they would vote against her. Billionaire Betsy DeVos has stirred up an unexpected level of controversy with her shaky confirmation hearing, and her job with the new administration now appears to be in serious jeopardy.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have come out in opposition to DeVos. Since Democrats are fighting this nomination, the Republican defections could put the final vote tally at 50-50. If another Republican were to join Collins and Murkowski, it could bring her confirmation to a decisive end.
As things stand now, Republicans will either have to persuade a Democrat to vote for DeVos or rely on Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote. If they go the latter route, it will be the first time in Senate history that the vice president has made such a move.
Why are the two Republicans set to defect? According to a report from The Daily Caller, the answer may come down to money:
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) have each benefited from contributions from the National Education Association. Collins received $2,000 from the union in 2002 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Murkowski, meanwhile, has received $23,500.
The NEA is the largest and richest union in America, and they have joined other teachers’ unions in fiercely opposing DeVos’s confirmation.
This is, of course, a reflection of exactly what’s wrong with our public education system in the first place. These unions carry so much weight in Washington that true, meaningful reform has become impossible. The only acceptable answer is more federal spending. Real solutions are to be avoided at all costs – especially if those solutions involve the slightest whiff of privatization.
We’ll be the first to admit that DeVos’s confirmation hearing was somewhat less than stellar, but she brings a fresh perspective to education that could be just what the DoE needs right now. Hopefully, Republicans will find a way to push past the resistance and confirm her to Trump’s Cabinet.