DeVos nomination stands at 50-50
It could come down to Vice President Mike Pence, in what would be a history-making confirmation vote.
Betsy DeVos has no votes to spare heading into a looming confirmation vote next week.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday they will vote against the Education Department nominee. That could very well mean a 50-50 standoff on the Senate floor — and Vice President Mike Pence being called in to put DeVos over the top. Republicans have a 52-48 majority, and no Democrats are expected to support the prospective education chief.
Senior leadership aides are confident DeVos will prevail in a likely floor vote Monday. After Collins and Murkowski announced their opposition Wednesday, a wave of undecided GOP senators broke DeVos’ way.
“Due to her commitment to improve our nation’s school system for all students and her focus on increasing parental engagement, I am supporting Betsy DeVos as our nation’s next secretary of education,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who was seen as the final potential swing vote, said late Wednesday afternoon. “I believe Betsy DeVos is the right choice for this position.”
If Pence is enlisted to break a tie, it would be the first time a vice president ensured the confirmation of a Cabinet nominee.
The back-to-back announcements by Collins and Murkowski created several hours of drama on Wednesday, raising liberals’ hopes of sinking a Trump nominee.
“This is not a decision I make lightly. I have a great deal of respect for Mrs. DeVos,” Collins said on the floor on Wednesday. “I will not, cannot vote to confirm her.”