LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ two U.S. senators joined with nearly all their Republican colleagues in voting for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday.
After the Senate split 50-50, with two Republicans voting against confirmation, Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in support. It was the first time a vice president has broken a tie on a cabinet nomination.
Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, both Republicans, said in separate statements Tuesday they believe DeVos will support the principle of local control.
“As a former school board member and the father of three daughters who were educated in the public school system, I understand how important it is to have education decisions made at the local level. Betsy DeVos shares this value,” Boozman said.
Boozman said, “DeVos will advocate for all schools, public and private, and will ensure that schools are accountable to the states, not a national school board. She is committed to implementing the laws as Congress wrote them, which will return decision-making control for our classrooms to Arkansas’s communities where it belongs.”
Cotton said President Donald Trump “has assembled a first-class team for his cabinet, and obstructing all of these confirmation votes is only delaying the important work that needs to be done.”
“In my conversation with Betsy DeVos, I found her to have a deep appreciation for the value of public schools and a special concern for the needs of the disadvantaged. I have every expectation she’ll return power to Arkansas parents, as I’ve long advocated for,” Cotton said.
The two Republicans who voted against confirmation were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
DeVos, the daughter-in-law of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, has been an advocate of the charter school system in Detroit and a supporter of school choice and school vouchers. She has been one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks.