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Senate Committee Backs Betsy DeVos, But Two Future GOP Votes Uncertain

The Senate education committee voted to move the nomination of Betsy DeVos for education secretary to the full Senate by a vote of 12 to 11 on Tuesday, following remarks that showed the bitter divisions between many Democrats and Republicans about President Donald Trump’s nominee. 

However, two Republicans on the committee expressed serious concerns about DeVos and wouldn’t commit to voting for her in the full Senate. Both Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said they had lingering worries about DeVos’ stance on traditional public schools and her understanding of the U.S. Department of Education’s role. The 12-to-11 vote broke along party lines, but not before some drama because in the committee’s first vote on DeVos, one senator voted by proxy.

The date of the full Senate vote on DeVos has yet to be set, but Republicans hold 52 seats, compared to just 48 for Democrats. If Collins and Murkowski decide to vote against DeVos, Democrats would still need to pick up an additional GOP “no” vote on DeVos to defeat her nomination, since Vice President Mike Pence holds the tiebreaking vote. 

After the committee meeting ended, Alexander told us he was confident the full Senate would approve DeVos. The date of that Senate vote has not yet been set.