Posted: 12:33 pm Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Vice President Mike Pence made history on Tuesday, casting the first tie breaking vote in the U.S. Senate to help confirm a Cabinet nominee, as the Senate voted 51-50 to approve President Trump’s pick for Education Secretary over the strong objections of Democrats.
“It’s not Democrats who are bitter about the election,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. “It’s the American people who are bitter about the nomination of Betsy DeVos.”
Democrats had kept the Senate in all night to make their arguments against DeVos, mainly zeroing in on her lack of experience with public education.
“Betsy DeVos called traditional public education a dead end,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who blasted DeVos as “someone who has never worked in a public school, never gone to a public school, never been a parent of somebody in a public school.”
But Democrats were unable to get one more vote to sink the DeVos nomination; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were the only two Republicans to break ranks and vote against DeVos.
And when the vote ended in a tie, Vice President Mike Pence took the chair to cast a historic tie-breaking vote.
“On this vote, the Yeas are 50, the Nays are 50; the Senate being equally divided, the Vice President votes in the affirmative, and the nomination is confirmed,” Pence announced.
It was the first tie-breaking vote cast by a Vice President since Dick Cheney; Joe Biden never had that opportunity during his eight years in office.
“I congratulate Betsy DeVos on her confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Education,” said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. “The President made an excellent choice to lead the Department of Education.”
Republicans ready to move on other top Trump nominees
With the DeVos nomination out of the way, Republicans signaled they will move on to other major nominations of President Trump, moving first to the choice of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General.
A final vote on Sessions could come by late on Wednesday; then the Senate is expected to move on to nominations for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department.
Here is what the rest of the week might look like:
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.