One of President Donald Trump’s most controversial cabinet nominees has been confirmed by a narrow vote in which Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie in the Senate. Two Republican senators defected to oppose Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor and advocate for school choice.
How did Colorado’s senators vote? About how you would expect.
Democrat Michael Bennet voted no. He joined his Democratic colleagues in a 24-hour speech-a-thon in opposition to DeVos that ran from noon Monday to noon Tuesday.
In his floor speech, Bennet said DeVos seemed to have an ideological commitment to competition among schools without any concern for quality or equity.
“A commitment to choice without a commitment to quality serves ideology rather than improvement, and a commitment to competition without a commitment to equity would forsake our democratic ideal that a free, high-quality public education must open the doors of opportunity for all,” he said.
Republican Cory Gardner, whose office was the site of protests in opposition to DeVos, voted yes.
In a statement, Gardner said he was personally persuaded of DeVos’ commitment to public education.
“As a product of public schools myself, and a father with one child — soon to be three — in the public school system, I believe it is important to have someone leading the Department of Education who will fight for public schools,” he said. “When I had the opportunity to meet Betsy DeVos personally, she pledged to me that she would be an advocate for public schools, teachers and educational opportunity for all. The debate around her nomination has been a healthy exercise of our democracy, made all the more important because it involves our most precious possession, our children. As someone who believes education decisions should be left to parents and their children with policy driven locally, Congress will hold her accountable and I will work to ensure she lives up to the commitment she made to me.”