The U.S. Senate will hold a full vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, next week.
On Friday, the Senate voted 52-48 to send the Michigan billionaire’s nomination to the full Senate floor.
Friday’s early morning vote was not a full vote, but a vote to cut off debate, contrary to news reports circulating Friday morning.
DeVos’ nomination has been riddled with backlash since Trump announced his pick for the country’s top education job in November.
Teachers and Democrats have expressed concerns that DeVos simply isn’t qualified enough for the job -- she has no teaching experience nor has she held any public office related to education. None of DeVos’ children have attended a public school.
“DeVos’ lack of experience, combined with her ideological zeal to put profits over children, has led to millions of Americans across the country—regardless of party affiliation—to ask their Senators to reject her nomination to become the nation’s education secretary,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said this week.
DeVos’ experience in education comes primarily from being a staunch advocate of school choice, pumping money to school choice programs which allow children and parents’ greater flexibility over which schools they attend. That position doesn’t sit well with teachers unions specifically, who sharply criticize school choice programs for “funneling” money away from public schools.
“So many questions have been left unanswered about her views on our schools and how she will protect our most vulnerable students, and so many possible conflicts of interest are left unaddressed,” Weingarten continued.
Lawmakers’ phone lines have been jammed this week with constituent calls voicing their concerns over DeVos’ nomination and it appeared her confirmation would be in jeopardy when two Republican senators -- Sens. Susan Collins, R-ME and Lisa Murkowski, R-AK -- said they would break party lines and vote against her.
Meanwhile, voters are using all sorts of channels to sway senators to say "no" to DeVos. A Philadelphia teacher started a GoFundMe page to buy Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's vote against DeVos. The page had raised $31,000 in less than 24 hours.
Both Collins and Murkowski have close ties to teachers unions -- Murkowski herself received $10,000 from the National Education Association in the 2016 cycle and both were the only GOP lawmakers to receive above a 50 percent rating from the NEA in 2012.
If all senators stick to their pledged votes, Vice President Mike Pence could become key to putting DeVos over the edge during the full floor vote, breaking a 50-50 tie to confirm DeVos as the next Secretary of Education.
The full Senate vote will be held Monday or Tuesday.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.