Democrats in the Senate have announced that they will be holding the floor for the next 24 hours in order to protest against Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for secretary of education.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Monday, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said:
“In my mind, she is the least qualified nominee in a historically unqualified cabinet. On conflicts of interest, she ranks among the worst… Frankly, Ms. DeVos’ answers at the hearing were embarrassing.”
Currently, the vote will likely end in a 50/50 tie, which will end in Vice President Mike Pence casting the final and deciding vote at midday on Tuesday
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington held the floor, saying:
“Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours, until the final vote, to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us.”
Two Republicans have pledged to hold out against the controversial appointment, according to The Hill. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are expected to oppose DeVos’ appointment. Senate Democrats need one more GOP senator on board to block her appointment. GOP Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska were once considered possible allies in the fight against the appointment, but all announced last week that they would be voting in favor.
Several Senate Democrats announced their intention to hold the floor overnight in order to protest, with Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania posting his intentions to Twitter shortly after the Senate came into session at noon on Monday.
“For the next 24 hours, @SenateDems will #HoldTheFloor to oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos.”
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 6, 2017
One of the most outspoken of the Democratic Senators was Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren spoke very critically of DeVos from the floor on Monday:
“I rise today to call on my colleagues to reject the nomination of Betsy DeVos. The Republicans have made it clear no matter her experience, no matter her radical views … they will ram this nomination down the throats of the American people sideways.”
Warren added that “it is difficult to imagine a worse choice” to head up the department.
Warren also argued that Trump’s attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, should not be permitted to vote on the appointment, citing “massive conflict of interest.” Warren argued:
“Now with at least 50 senators … publicly opposed to this nomination, the Republican leadership has rigged the vote so that Sen. Sessions can drag her across the finish line just before he is confirmed as attorney general.”
Warren criticized DeVos’ lack of experience and her support for charter schools, and particularly her response to questions during DeVos’ confirmation hearings involving federal student loan programs.
“I asked her basic, straightforward questions about her commitment to protecting students and taxpayers from fraud. … Her response was shocking…”
Warren said that DeVos “would be a disaster for both students and taxpayers.”
DeVos is a mega-donor to the Republican Party, and her appointment has been opposed by teacher unions because of her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers. DeVos also has neither work nor life experience in public schooling.
Watch the Reuters video of the contentious debate below.