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Trump’s embattled U.S. education secretary pick may face Senate fight

By Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, already often known as probably the most controversial nominees for education secretary in U.S. historical past, now dangers a uncommon congressional rejection.

The deeply divided U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday agreed to ship her nomination to the complete chamber for a vote, the ultimate step within the affirmation course of.

But the committee’s government session confirmed DeVos faces uneven waters forward for a submit for which there’s sometimes little congressional debate or public consideration.

The chairman, Republican Lamar Alexander, acted as tie-breaker in any case 11 Republicans voted for Republican President Donald Trump’s pick and all 11 Democrats towards.

Two Republicans – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – expressed grave misgivings concerning the constitution faculty advocate’s restricted expertise with public faculties. They stated they voted sure solely so the complete Senate can debate if DeVos is the fitting match. Murkowski stated she may not help DeVos within the Senate vote.

Meanwhile, Democrats stated the nomination was rushed, with DeVos offering solutions they described as obscure and noncommittal to a whole lot of written questions solely 24 hours earlier than the vote.

After lots of Trump’s nominees sailed via their confirmations in current weeks, the names presently earlier than the Senate are assembly resistance.

The Senate’s 48 Democrats solely want to tug three Republicans to their aspect to finish DeVos’ nomination. Just 9 nominees have ever been rejected by the Senate.

Public opposition to DeVos is unusually fierce, stated Mary Kusler, lobbyist for the National Education Association, a big union that stated constituents despatched a million emails and positioned 40,000 calls to senators decrying the nomination.

It is the most important public outcry over an education secretary that Kusler has seen in her profession of greater than 20 years, she added.

NEA and American Federation of Teachers, one other main union, say they’ll sustain their anti-DeVos fight in the course of the Senate vote and anticipate voters may even keep strain.

Public opinion of DeVos wobbled after her Jan. 17 listening to, the place she instructed permitting weapons at rural faculties to fend off bear assaults.

Old-guard Republicans like former First Lady Barbara Bush defended her as a lifelong champion of low-income youngsters, literacy and giving mother and father extra selection in education.

Democrats, in the meantime, blasted her for supporting privatization in methods they stated harm poor college students, not understanding primary education legal guidelines and issues, and courting potential conflicts of curiosity by means of her investments.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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