Updated, 11:40 a.m. Wednesday: The U.S. Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos for education secretary, 50-50 with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.
Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, voted yes. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, voted no.
The original post continues below.
The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s embattled pick for education secretary, Tuesday afternoon.
DeVos is a billionaire GOP mega-donor who advocates for school vouchers. DeVos’ opponents worry she’ll dismantle the U.S. Department of Education.
Last week, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced they would break ranks and vote against Devos. Senate Democrats held the floor overnight in an attempt to stop Devos’ confirmation.
But as it stands, DeVos is likely to be confirmed on a 50-50 split with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.
Here’s where the Kansas-Missouri U.S. Senate delegation stands on DeVos.
Sen. Roy Blunt
On Facebook, Blunt voiced his support for DeVos.
The post has been shared more than 2,000 times and generated 13,000 comments.
Sen. Claire McCaskill
McCaskill, the lone Democrat of the bunch, tweeted her intention to vote no.
For the umpteenth time....No. https://t.co/HfWWB5E0dR
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) January 31, 2017
DeVos is so out of touch.Parents in rural Mo don't have choices b/w public & private schools.They rely on strong public schools. #NoOnDeVos
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) February 7, 2017
“Ms. DeVos has focused on one goal when it comes to education—robbing public schools of resources in order to boost private schools,” McCaskill said in a news release. “I don't think she even understands that in rural Missouri, there is no choice of private schools. So her plan would rob rural public schools and shift that money to private schools in more urban areas. That is unacceptable.”
Sen. Jerry Moran
In a statement, Moran said he went into a meeting with DeVos unconvinced, but she managed to sway him:
“I have had a number of serious concerns about Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be our next Secretary of Education. Those concerns have been echoed by Kansas educators and parents I have met with and heard from over the last several weeks. During our meeting today, I laid out several of my top concerns – namely, the threat of a federally-mandated voucher program in our state, potentially insufficient enforcement and funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and more broadly, my desire to make certain that she shares my view about the limited role the federal government should play in education. Helping one group of students to find more opportunity should not come at the price of reducing the benefits of other students. High-performing schools – be they rural, urban or suburban – should determine how to best address their community’s unique educational needs rather than conform to broad, one-size-fits-all standards issued at the federal level, and I made that clear to her.
“Ms. DeVos confirmed to me that there will be no federally-mandated voucher program in the state of Kansas. She reassured me that the state, local districts and school boards will retain their important role in administering our schools and determining our students’ curriculum. She shares my interest in pursuing full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that our students with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a quality education and pursue their goals. And lastly, she agrees that we must return control over our students’ education to the state and local levels by implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act as Congress intended.
“Though I began our meeting unconvinced, I now expect to support her nomination knowing that, as Secretary of Education, Ms. DeVos will be working to make certain that all Kansas students are better off and that educational decisions are made by those who understand the unique needs of Kansas kids: educators, administrators and parents at the local level.”
Sen. Pat Roberts
Roberts expressed confidence in Trump’s pick for education secretary.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with Mrs. DeVos to ensure Kansans can make their own decisions about the best way to improve education, free from federal interference,” he said in a news release. “The President and his team fully understand that a one-size-fits-all education system just does not work. I have spoken with Mrs. DeVos numerous times, and I am confident she is the right person for the job. I urge my colleagues to quickly confirm her.”
You can read Roberts’ full statement here.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.