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Staged on the Senate floor and outside with protesters, these leaders were clear about not letting Betsy DeVos become the education secretary.  

Danielle Kwateng-Clark
Feb, 07, 2017

Democrats are not letting Betsy DeVos become education secretary without a fight.

They spent the night on the Senate floor to oppose the billionaire charter school proponent from getting the role that could adversely affect millions of children nationally. Currently there's a 50-50 divide in Senate votes, made even by two Republicans: Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Vice President Michael Pence will make the deciding vote today if a Republican doesn't budge.

As reported by The New York Times, Democrats employed every procedural tool to slow the process, and Republican leaders said they would simply keep the Senate in session until a few key individuals were approved: Ms. DeVos, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general, Representative Tom Price of Georgia for secretary of health and human services and Steven T. Mnuchin for Treasury secretary.

In addition to protest within the Senate, the constituency protested outside with signs, speeches and chants opposing DeVos.

"Democrats will fight for public education," Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a group of protestors.

Adding, "This one is real personal for me. When I graduated from college, first job, my calling was to be a special needs teacher for public school kids. Well, when it comes to special needs kids, she [DeVos] thinks whether or not we ought to be spending public education dollars to make sure our kids get educated should be left up to the states. She thinks private schools should separate our kids, to educate some of them but not others, using tax payer dollars."

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Sen. Bob Menendez—who was contacted by 50,000 New Jersey residents against DeVos's confirmation—said on the Senate floor that he believes DeVos has "worked to undermine" public schools: "I believe guns should remain out of our schools, but Mrs. DeVos seems to indicate that they could have a place there."

While it may all seem in vain, constituents are still being urged to call Sen. Pat Toomey (PA), Jeff Flake (AZ), Dean Heller (NV), Thom Tillis (NC), Mike Crapo (ID), John Hoeven (ND), and Rob Portman (OH) who can still change their vote, thus tossing DeVos out.