Indiana senators comment on now-confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

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Betsy DeVos - DONKEYHOTEY
  • DonkeyHotey
  • Betsy DeVos

Today, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote in a highly contentious Trump cabinet appointee: Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Pence — who we remind you has a historically contentious relationship with education leaders in his own state — is the first VP to be called upon to break a tie vote for the confirmation of a cabinet member.

The Senate's 50-50 vote was divided strictly along party lines, with the exception of two Republicans — Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voting against DeVos with the Dems and Independents.

For weeks, protestors have implored Senator Todd Young to vote against DeVos. So why vote for the Michigan billionaire, who, along with having no experience in education or administration, is vocally anti-public education, pro-charter, pro-voucher, pro-guns on school property and ignorant about federal laws supporting students with disabilities or those at-risk for sexual assault, or really any laws governing education in the United States?

Well, to start with, Young received about $48,000 in campaign contributions from DeVos and her family last year. In fact, DeVos' family and associated organizations have contributed at least $2.5 million to Hoosier politicians — including $95,000 to Gov. Eric Holcomb just last year — since 2004. (The Huffington Post writes, "Sitting Republican senators have received $115,000 from Betsy DeVos herself, and more than $950,000 from the full DeVos clan since 1980. In the past two election cycles alone, her family has donated $8.3 million to Republican Party super PACs.")

Young has not commented on his campaign contributions from DeVos. Here's
his statement, which NUVO received this afternoon, about why he supported Trump's "fundamentally incompetent" nominee (to quote Senator Al Franken's words from last night's 24-hour filibuster by Democratic senators) to be in charge of our children's educational future:
"I voted for Betsy DeVos because she has devoted her life to the field of education. She has an unwavering belief that parents should be in charge of making choices about their child's education. I look forward to working with Ms. DeVos following her swearing in as Secretary of Education." 
Our other senator, Joe Donnelly, has vocally opposed DeVos' nomination and confirmation since January, and voted against her today on the Senate floor. Why did he oppose? Donnelly's January 25 statement reads:
“Every Hoosier deserves access to a quality education—it’s a cornerstone of our democracy and prepares our students to enter the workforce, secure good-paying jobs and succeed. After reviewing her record, I share the concerns expressed by many Hoosier educators, students, and families that Betsy DeVos lacks the commitment to public education needed to effectively lead the Department of Education. I am concerned she will not prioritize efforts that are important to Hoosier families, like: expanding access to early childhood education, improving our public schools, and empowering student borrowers and reducing federal student loan debt. While I will vote against her nomination, I will continue fighting for our students because ensuring they have access to good schools and teachers not only lays a solid foundation for our students to reach their potential, but also helps increase economic opportunity.”

Hours after the DeVos vote, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie proposed a bill eliminating the Department of Education entirely. It's hard to imagine DeVos — who now leads that department — getting too worked up about such a bill, since she seems to oppose any federal public education standards.


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