WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate on Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos to become President Donald Trump’s education secretary.
All but two Senate Republicans held tight in their support of the billionaire mega-donor, who was the most embattled Cabinet pick by Trump.
Two Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — voted against the nomination. But the other 50 Republicans voted yes, and the 46 Democrats and two independents also voted no, resulting in a 50-50 result.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet voted against the nomination, while Republican Sen. Cory Gardner voted in favor.
Under the Constitution in such situations, the vice president casts the deciding vote, and Pence voted in favor of the nomination.
DeVos thanked the Senate for the confirmation.
I appreciate the Senate's diligence & am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let's improve options & outcomes for all US students.
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) February 7, 2017
DeVos’ poor performance in her confirmation hearing — punctuated by her suggestion that a school in Wyoming might want to have guns on premises to protect from grizzly bears — contributed to roaring anger among public school supporters and teachers unions.
DeVos’ Senate vote came after a dramatic 24 hours of protest from Democrats inside and outside the Capitol that lasted through the night, into Tuesday morning, with Democratic senators taking shifts in the Senate arguing against DeVos.