UPDATE: Betsy Devos was confirmed by the Senate in a 50-51 vote, with Vice Presdient Pence stepping in to cast the tie-breaking vote. The controversial Philanthropist and multi-billionaire will head the Department of Education in President Trump’s administration, heading a department with 4,400 employees and an annual budget of $68 billion. Face Activities will post more on the implications of Betsy Devos’s confirmation later today.
Will Betsy DeVos be the next Secretary of Education in President Trump’s Administration? Today her fate hangs in the balance. The U.S. Senate will vote on her confirmation to the important cabinet post, amidst strong opposition from both Congressional Democrats and concerned citizen’s protesting her nomination.
Opposition is actually so fierce that Democratic Senators launched an all-night protest on the floor of the Senate, during which they took turns throughout the night speaking out against the DeVos nomination. Their efforts were matched by passionate protests on the streets of Washington, D.C., and a vigorous nation-wide call-in effort by concerned citizens across the nation.
In the last week there have been notable republican defections to the anti-DeVos camp, giving the opposition hope. Republican law-makers still predict victory, but expect the margin to be extremely close, probably a 50-50 tie between Senators, that Vice President Mike Pence will step in to break in favor of the Trump nominee.
Devos is one of the most controversial Trump picks, perhaps second only to Bannon, who is a white nationalist extremist, loathed by the left, and many on the right as well. Devos is considered particularly unqualified for the top education administration job by most of her detractors, so the differences aren’t limited to ideological disputes. She has never held a paying job in the field of education, nor has she earned a University degree in the field of education. Many insist America’s top educator should actually be an educator, not merely a political hack.
And to make matters worse, she performed poorly during her confirmation hearings, revealing an inadequate understanding of important issues and controversies in the field of education. During a series of questions on the role of guns in schools, she was widely derided for suggesting that a school might need to keep a gun around to ward off grizzly bears.
In fact, it appears her main qualifications for the high profile cabinet position are loyalty to Donald Trump, a strong record of monetary donations to Trump and other conservative candidates and causes, strong support for extreme right wing views on education (that are pleasing to the alt right crowd,) and membership in the billionaire’s club, from which President Trump prefers to draw his cabinet picks.
It’s likely that her republican supporters recognize she’s not really qualified for the position, but hope to parlay their support for President Trump into concrete political victories, like hisupport for their conservative economic policies and legislative agenda. This is, of course, a sad and pessimistic view of American Politics. It’s always unconscionable to select unqualified candidates for important cabinet positions, especially positions that affect the welfare of children, and the future of the nation. Clearly the Secretary of Education is such a vital position.
For those Face Activities members who are concerned about the DeVos nomination and the direction the Trump Administration has taken, it’s not too late to do something about it. Call your Senator and let your voice be heard. And even if DeVos wins the nomination, the strong opposition she has received to date will be noted in Washington’s corridors of power.