Last Thursday, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) announcing his support for DeVos last Thursday. Earlier today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary on a vote of 51 to 50. Yes, you read that correctly. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote after an initial 50-50 deadlock. Let’s examine just how critical Heller’s vote ultimately proved to be.
Last Wednesday, Heller’s office quietly tweeted a press release announcing his support for DeVos. The next day, over 100 progressive activists gathered for a peaceful vigil at Senator Dean Heller’s Las Vegas office. While the event primarily addressed President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at preventing refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, one speaker and several attendees also specifically addressed the controversy surrounding DeVos’ record of advancing school privatization.
What made Heller’s vote so decisive?
Two other Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), had announced their intention to vote against DeVos’ confirmation. Constituents throughout the nation then flooded their Senate offices with calls and messages. This was particularly noteworthy here in Nevada, as Senator Heller’s office had to issue multiple statements on constituents’ attempts to call.
DeVos encountered bipartisan opposition to her record on school privatization, one that seems odd for someone seeking to become the nation’s Education Secretary. Regardless, Heller cast the vote that allowed Vice President Pence to break the tie to confirm DeVos.
This keeps Heller on track for a 100% record on confirming Trump’s Cabinet Nominees, despite the ongoing controversies surrounding Trump’s Presidency and despite Trump receiving just under 46% of the vote last November. With more confirmation votes scheduled this week in the Senate, we’ll keep an eye on Heller’s votes going forward.