WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after the U.S. Senate voted 50-50 on the controversial nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Ms. Devos on a final vote of 51-50.  This marks the first time in U.S. history that a Vice President has had to resolve a tie on a cabinet nomination.

Ms. Devos has no experience working in public education.  However, she has consistently lobbied to reduce school oversight and accountability in Michigan and promoted the diversion of taxpayer dollars toward private schools.  And during her testimony before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, she suggested that a landmark civil rights law should be left up to states.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed voted against the DeVos nomination because he said she was “unqualified” and would “undermine public education.”  Reed was joined in voting no by every other Democratic and Independent Senator, as well as two Republicans: Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

During a rare, all night talkathon that took place before the vote, Senator Reed noted that: “Teachers, parents, and community members have been calling from across the country; writing, emailing, urging the Senate to reject the DeVos nomination.  Indeed, I have received over 12,500 calls and messages from Rhode Islanders -- an unprecedented negative response to a presidential nominee.   Our constituents want a champion for public education at the helm of the Department of Education.  They want someone committed to public schools, someone knowledgeable about the federal role in education.  They have determined that Betsy DeVos is not that person.”

After the vote, Reed stated:

“This was a historically unqualified nominee who should have been rejected.  I thank all the students, parents, educators, and citizens who spoke out and made their voices heard.  The confirmation process is not the end, it is the beginning.  Now the real hard work begins.  President Trump and Congressional Republicans got the person they wanted to lead the U.S. Department of Education and we must hold them accountable for supporting our public schools, protecting civil rights in education, making college affordable, and expanding opportunities for lifelong learning.  

“We must not allow the public to be taken out of our public education system to suit a partisan, ideological agenda.  Our public schools are places where every child can have access to educational opportunities, and we can’t afford to let that opportunity slip away.  We do not want a system of elementary and secondary education where students and families must pay and schools can choose which students they serve.  That is not the universal system of public education that has made our nation great.”