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Vice President Pence casts deciding vote to confirm DeVos for Secretary of Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate to confirm one of President Donald Trump’s most-controversial cabinet nominees, billionaire Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

In a statement, Michael R. Pence, Vice President of the United States, wrote:

Vice President Mike Pence

Today, I cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos.The vote the President asked me to cast wasn’t just for Betsy – it was also for America’s future.

Our nation’s success depends on the education of our students. In Betsy DeVos, we have one of America’s foremost advocates for educational opportunity and excellence.

DeVos sworn in

For nearly three decades she has devoted her time, her talent, and her treasure to ensure that every child in America has the best shot at a better life. Countless students have benefitted from her efforts to promote an educational marketplace defined by innovation, opportunity, and real, meaningful choice.

The President and I agree that our children’s futures should not be determined by their zip code. Students should not be trapped in a system that puts the status quo ahead of a child’s success.

DeVos

Betsy DeVos will have great impact as Secretary of Education. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a public school, a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, or any other kind of school – she will help ensure that every student has access to a good school.

We are grateful to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and all the Republican Senators who stood with us on this important vote.

The President is fully committed to this mission. Today’s vote was the first of its kind in our nation’s history, but the real history will be made through our unwavering dedication to America’s children – and to America’s future.

Thank you for all your help and support.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken was one Republican who broke ranks and made Pence’s vote crucial. Mr. Franken said in a statement:

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. 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.”

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa voted in favor of President Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to be U.S. Secretary of Education. He made the following comment on the vote:

Grassley

“I believe Betsy DeVos will perform the job of U.S. Secretary of Education faithfully and well. There’s been a lot of misinformation that Mrs. DeVos opposes public schools. In fact, she’s committed to being an advocate for great public schools. What’s more, her job will not be to oversee public schools. That’s handled at the state and local school board levels. The role of the U.S. Secretary of Education is to implement federal education programs, which are largely targeted at providing additional assistance to disadvantaged students and students with disabilities whether they attend public or private schools.Mrs. DeVos has worked to help low-income families access the same educational choices that wealthier families routinely exercise. That includes supporting charter schools, which are public schools, and which have been supported by the past several secretaries of education. Her work on behalf of disadvantaged students makes her a good match for overseeing the federal role in education.

She’s made it clear that her job would be to enforce all federal laws as Congress intended. That’s refreshing in light of recent experience. The Obama Administration overreached in trying to coerce states to adopt its preferred policies. As a result, Congress passed safeguards to prevent any future secretary of education from pushing policies not included in federal law.

I look forward to having a U.S. Secretary of Education who recognizes that position’s limited role, enforces federal law, and leaves all other educational decisions to the states, local schools, and parents. And I’ll continue my longstanding practice of nonpartisan oversight to ensure laws are implemented properly, without executive branch overreach.”

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst voted to confirm Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education:

Senator Joni Ernst

“All children deserve a chance to achieve success regardless of where they are born and the situations their families face. Having grown up in rural Southwest Iowa, my parents often stressed the importance of a strong education.In Iowa, we are fortunate to have one of the best public school systems in the nation. And, I am a proud product of our Iowa public school system – as is my 17 year-old daughter, Libby who will graduate this May.

As a mother and grandmother, I firmly believe education should be handled at the state and local level by Iowans, not Washington bureaucrats.

Over the last several weeks, I have thoroughly vetted Betsy DeVos, and have found that she shares the belief that those closest to our students – from parents to teachers to local administrators and local elected officials – know what is best for our students.

Additionally, she has pledged to fight for all students, including those attending public, private, and charter schools and students who require additional support due to developmental, physical, or other disabilities.

While I support her confirmation, I will be holding her accountable to the standard she has placed upon herself.

I have heard from folks on both sides of the debate over Betsy DeVos. Good people can disagree with one another and still engage in a civil, productive discourse.

An open and honest dialogue is important and it’s critical that I continue to hear from you – which you can do by calling one of our offices, sending me a letter, or visit my website Ernst Dot Senate Dot Gov.

I look forward to working with you to protect our schools, restore local control, and prepare our youth to enter the workforce.

Thank you for all that you do.”

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