By Jarrod Walley |Staff Writer|
Betsy DeVos awaits official confirmation on Monday, Feb 6. from the Senate for the position of Secretary of Education after the Senate Committee voted her through.
The voting for DeVos’ confirmation in the Senate Committee was broadcast live through the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN). It took place Tuesday, Jan. 31, after an introduction and opening statement from the chairman of the committee, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.
Each senator in the committee cast his or her vote for DeVos. The results were 12 votes in favor and 11 votes against. Chairman Alexander had the deciding vote to put DeVos through.
Much like the committee, the Senate is divided on DeVos, with half of its members pushing for her approval. However, there are just as many against her nomination.
Dr. Jay Fiene, Dean of the College of Education, expressed his concern, saying, “I am also troubled by how she has appeared to lack knowledge of significant legal precedence and administrative policy related to education.”
“Her apparent either lack of understanding or inability to express her knowledge clearly on the matters of Special Education such as Free and Appropriate Education (litigated in 1975),” Fiene continued.
Students are concerned with DeVos’ experience in education, and her involvement in private institutions.
Student Nick Velasco said, “I would want to see her take funding for schools as a case by case [issue] rather than [her] favoritism for private education.”
The students of today also feel that DeVos is just simply lacking in experience in the aspects of education that are fundamental for a Secretary of Education.
“If I were to have anyone replace her, I would want someone who went to a public school, became a teacher, and is now on a board of education in a state,” said student Tim Kaufman.
Even some of the Republicans in the Senate have expressed dissatisfaction with the nominee. Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski announced their opposition for Betsy DeVos earlier on Wednesday, Feb. 1 via C-SPAN.
Senator Collin and Senator Murkowski served on the Senate Committee and, although conflicted, voted in favor of DeVos. However, after further review of the candidate, both Senators have reconsidered.
This is the first time we have seen members of the Republican party oppose one of President Donald Trump’s Secretary nominees, as well as the first Secretary of Education nominee to possibly be rejected.
The senate has a Republican majority with 52 seats compared to the Democrats 46 seats: two seats are independent, yet they side with the Democrats according to senate.gov.
In addition to the Senate, there is a Republican majority, 240 seats, in the House of Representatives compared to the Democrats 193 seats as listed on pressgallery.house.gov.
“Not surprised,” said Dr. Fiene when asked about DeVos making it through the committee vote.
“There is Republican control of the Executive and Legislative Branches so, likely any of President Trump’s nominees will ultimately make it through the nomination and confirmation processes,” continued Dr. Fiene.
With an overwhelming Republican presence, it is obvious that Democrats are exercising all of their options.
For DeVos to be confirmed, she will need all 50 votes of the remaining Republican senators. This means that if one more Republican senator votes against her, DeVos will be rejected.
Vice President Mike Pence will attend the voting at Capitol Hill for a potential tie-breaking vote.