Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be next Secretary of Education on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Jan. 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
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The Senate Tuesday confirmed school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Education secretary by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote.DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations.After an all-night speaking marathon by Democrats, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urged her Republican colleagues to vote against DeVos, calling her unqualified and saying that she will be a poor advocate for low income families and students with disabilities who rely on public education.Emotions ran high ahead of the vote as constituents jammed senators' phone lines with calls and protesters gathered outside the Capitol, including one person in a grizzly bear costume to ridicule DeVos' comment during her confirmation hearing that some schools might want guns to protect against grizzlies. Her opponents also charge that DeVos has no experience to run public schools, having never attended one or sent her children to a public school.DeVos will also have to react to Trump's campaign proposal of funneling $20 billion of public funds toward school vouchers.The clash over nominees has created a toxic atmosphere in the Senate that mirrors the tense national mood since Trump's election, with Democrats boycotting committee votes and Republicans unilaterally jamming nominees through committee without Democrats present.
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