Betsy Devos' Billions Can't Buy Her the GOP's Support

The defection of two Republican senators has imperiled President Trump’s nomination of Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced Tuesday they would not vote for DeVos, whose wobbly performance in her confirmation hearings and lack of public school experience have encouraged Senate Democrats seeking to defeat her nomination.


"I will not, I cannot vote to confirm her as our nation’s next secretary of education," Collins said on the Senate floor. 

DeVos has contributed $5,000 to Collins’ campaigns. But Murkowski’s no-vote was perhaps an even bigger surprise. DeVos’ family businesses have contributed $33,400 to Murkowski's political campaigns since 1989, according to OpenSecrets

With all 48 Democratic senators expected to vote against DeVos, Democrats need only one more vote to kill her nomination. Attention has turned to two of the most moderate Republican senators, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Protests organized by public education advocates in Alaska may have made the difference. More than 200 demonstrators thronged Murkowski’s office in Anchorage on Monday, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Her staff estimated the senator's office received an unprecedented 30,000 phone calls about DeVos.

Of all of Trump’s nominees, DeVos has attracted the most opposition, even from her fellow alumni of Calvin College, the private Christian school in Michigan from which she graduated.

Last month hundreds of Calvin College graduates signed a letter objecting to DeVos' nomination.

While many of us were inspired by our time at Calvin College to make education a professional commitment, Mrs. DeVos was not. She has never worked in any educational institution as an administrator, nor as an educator. If the position of the Secretary of Education requires the individual to have an intimate knowledge of the tools used by educators, which we believe it does, Mrs. DeVos does not qualify.

The Senate has not yet scheduled the final vote on DeVos’ confirmation.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close