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Senate confirms Betsy DeVos as education secretary

By Doug G. Ware and Andrew V. Pestano
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Vice President Mike Pence, right, swears in Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, as husband Dick DeVos Jr., looks on in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office. DeVos squeaked through a history-making Senate confirmation vote which saw Pence break a 50-50 tie on Tuesday. Pool photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/89c3842558eb08adfc73138f881d38c0/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Vice President Mike Pence, right, swears in Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, as husband Dick DeVos Jr., looks on in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office. DeVos squeaked through a history-making Senate confirmation vote which saw Pence break a 50-50 tie on Tuesday. Pool photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence broke a Senate tie Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.

Prior to the vote, Senate Democrats held a marathon floor session through the night hoping to foil President Donald Trump's nomination to the post. Democrats needed to persuade at least one more Republicans to vote against her nomination but were unable to do so.

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Republican Sens. Susan Collins, R-Me., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, both voted no. Republicans control the Senate with 52 members, compared to 48 Democrats and independents.

"I'm opposing the nomination because of the track record, the track record of much of what she has advocated for hasn't worked, No. 1, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said hours prior to the vote on Tuesday. "Ms. DeVos just doesn't have the qualifications that 50 million plus students in the United States demand."

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Trump on Tuesday voiced his support for DeVos prior to the vote.

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"Senate Dems protest to keep the failed status quo. Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!" Trump tweeted.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions questioned DeVos about her potential conflicts of interest between her government post and private education investments.

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In particular, the panel showed concern about her desire to implement a private school voucher program -- and whether that might lead to diminished funding for public schools. The Office of Government Ethics has identified more than 100 potential conflicts of interest concerning DeVos' candidacy.

After her confirmation, DeVos was sworn in to her new post later Tuesday.

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