Capitol Correspondence - 02.13.17

DeVos Narrowly Confirmed as Education Secretary

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On February 7, Betsy DeVos was confirmed to lead the Department of Education. DeVos, who was sharply criticized by Democrats and many professional educators as being a wealthy Republican donor with virtually no experience in public education, was confirmed after a late night debate on the Senate floor. Ultimately, the Senate split 50-50, with two Republican lawmakers siding with Democrats to vote against DeVos. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to break the tie and confirm DeVos. The vote was unprecedented, marking the first time a Vice President has had to break a Senate tie on a cabinet-level nomination. 
Many in the disability community were concerned at DeVos’ nomination, particularly after a confirmation hearing where she seemed unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act, and unsure of states’ obligation to follow the federal law. (See WICs article, “Education Secretary Nominee Faces Tough Questions at Senate Hearing,” January 19, 2017.) ANCOR had joined with other disability organizations in asking the Senate to delay DeVos’ confirmation until she satisfactorily expanded on her understanding of IDEA.