Despite withering confirmation hearings which continually showed that Education Department secretary nominee Betsy DeVos didn’t know some of the basic facts on American schools, the Republican donor was confirmed today by a slim margin, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
Criticism of her confirmation was almost immediate and none was more scathing than Sen. Al Franken.
"One of the most important jobs in our government is the Secretary of Education, who directly oversees the policies that children, teachers, school administrators, and entire communities depend on," said Sen. Franken. "It's not a job for amateurs who don't know the first thing about education. I voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, because she is the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen. Last night, I urged my Republican colleagues to oppose her nomination, because if we cannot set party loyalty aside long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the President's nominees, then I don't know what we are even doing here. Betsy DeVos has demonstrated that she is fundamentally unqualified to lead the Education Department, and it's a shame that Republicans voted to confirm one of their major donors instead of looking out for our children."
During her confirmation hearings, it became clear she lacked a basic understanding of the public school system, including the fundamental ways in which students are evaluated. DeVos has been a longtime proponent of charter schools, which are privately run but still receive public fund and aren’t held to the same academic standards and testing as public schools.
It was the first time in history that a vice president has been called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote for a cabinet nomination, according to the New York Times.
Others took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
At least we now know how much it costs to become Education Secretary. We got the receipts on the souls of every vote. #devos— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) February 7, 2017
Rep. Keith Ellison:
.@SenateDems, THANKS for fighting DeVos nomination. We only needed 1 to win. Watching you battle for America's school kids was inspiring.— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 7, 2017
Actor Kumail Nanjiani:
Betsy Devos got confirmed. Everyone who voted for her should be ashamed. Party before country. They're using children's education as pawns.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) February 7, 2017
Southern Poverty Law Center:
#DeVos was confirmed in a tie that had to be broken by the VP. Don't be disheartened. Your voices are being heard and we will keep fighting.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 7, 2017
Sen. Chuck Schumer:
It is remarkable that #DeVos is even the nominee given how little she knows. Her hearing was embarrassing, regardless of political party.— deray mckesson (@deray) February 7, 2017
A sad day for our children. Another unsurprising move by the spineless GOP. But this feeds a growing resistance & we will continue to fight. https://t.co/fpShx7CFV4— Rachel Brosnahan (@RachieBros) February 7, 2017
Betsy DeVos confirmed. What is also confirmed is that there is not one single man of courage in the Republican Congress.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) February 7, 2017
Mike Drucker (writer, Last Week Tonight):
Betsy DeVos finally fulfills America's dream of having an education system matching the one in Pink Floyd's The Wall.— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) February 7, 2017