The Republicans rushed Michigan billionaire and education privatization advocate Betsy DeVos through the confirmation committee. The woman and her children have never gone to a public school. Worse, she does not have a clue about the simplest educational issues. Democratic senators are protesting all night, keeping the Senate floor open in opposition to this oblivious woman.
The Senate voted 52-48 to invoke cloture, which limits debating time on her nomination to 30 hours. Thus far, two Republican senators have publicly announced they will not vote for DeVos.
Democrats decided to hold the Senate for the next 24 hours, until the Republican-led vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Education Department.
On C-SPAN, Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy emphasized over and over how the confirmation committee operated:
‘In the very little time she was allowed to be testified and questioned…’
Leahy said it was as if the committee was trying to rush her through:
‘Don’t let her speak, people will know what she thinks.’
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts gave a rousing speech that summarized why DeVos must not be confirmed as Secretary of Education. The Senate is one Republican vote away from making certain she loses.
Warren said the Republican committee came up with a new rule of one turn at questions, even though she asked President Barack Obama’s choice multiple sets of questions. On C-SPAN, Warren said:
‘We had five minutes total during the [committee] hearing on record, and couldn’t ask additional questions…We were forced to hold the committee hearings before her ethics review of her billions was reviewed. We had no chance to question her.’
Warren said that DeVos will make money off of questionable investments directly related to decisions she would make as a Secretary of Education. The Senator called her a “disaster for Michigan schools,” on C-SPAN and says she has a “destructive record with for-profit schools” and no strong oversight:
‘Her job is safeguarding the investment the federal government makes in public schools and for holding states accountable for enforcing critical civil rights laws. In the confirmation hearing, she was embarrassingly unprepared to defend these laws.’
Warren says DeVos “doesn’t even have a basic understanding” of education…and “doesn’t even meet the basic qualifications.”
As Secretary of Education, DeVos would be in charge of $150 billion for students’ grants and loans. Warren said the one trillion dollars of student loans will “impact future of an entire generation.”
The Massachusetts senator said on C-SPAN, DeVos is:
‘Unfit to be in charge.’
DeVos’ billions of dollars comes in part from the voucher system, charter schools with little oversight, “sketchy” online schools, and privatization of education. However, people will never know how much she would take from taxpayers, because she holds herself above the law, keeping secret family trusts.
While the Democrats’ decision to work overnight in protest adds publicity to DeVos, the party does not have the numbers to block a final confirmation. Washington Senator Patty Murray was the minority leader in DeVos’ confirmation hearing. She said:
‘Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours, until the final vote, to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us. And I strongly encourage people across the country to join us — to double down on your advocacy — and to keep making your voices heard for these last 24 hours.’
Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have publicly said they will vote “no” to confirm DeVos. If no other Republicans vote how their constituents want, the final vote is 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence’s vote would be the tie-breaker in favor of an unqualified woman who bought her job.
Check out Warren on C-Span:
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 6, 2017
Featured Image: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.