Betsy DeVos almost didn't make it into Trump's Cabinet. Somehow, she's still there

Betsy DeVos almost didn't make it into Trump's Cabinet. Somehow, she's still there
"Betsy DeVos" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC by-sa 2.0

Fifteen of Donald Trump’s Cabinet-level officials have resigned or been fired since he took office, but one of the few still standing is the one who came closest to not being confirmed at all. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made it into office only with a tie-breaking vote cast by Mike Pence, but she’s still in the Trump administration pushing school privatization plans, without too many public attacks from Trump or rumors that she plans to step down any time soon.

While Trump has noticed that DeVos frequently screws up and has privately been as insulting about her as you would expect of him, “the president shows no signs of asking her to resign, reflecting in part his lack of interest in the issue of education and the department responsible for it,” the Washington Post reports. (Donald Trump, not interested in education? Surely not!) Trump is willing to sit back and benefit from having a devout Christian in a visible place in his administration, pushing a privatization agenda that’s popular with the far right.

And while DeVos’ ignorance and foot-in-mouth habits may themselves be a scandal, she’s been scandal-free in the traditional political sense, not using her position to personally enrich herself (why would she, after being born into money and marrying into more?) or challenging Trump beyond trying meekly to make clear that she personally likes the Special Olympics even if she’s willing to be a good soldier and defend Trump’s budget cuts. But she’s happy in the role, loyalists tell the Post.

“After two years of mostly undoing the work of her predecessors”—you know, trying to make life easier for campus rapists and sexual harassers and harder for people scammed by predatory for-profit colleges—“she has shifted to advancing her own agenda.” That means a massive $5 billion-a-year tax giveaway to private schools and the people and corporations that give them money. It’s not a Trump priority and it won’t pass as long as congressional Democrats have a say, but it lets DeVos work on the only educational issue she really cares about. So why wouldn’t she keep gently sucking up to Trump, and why wouldn’t he let her stay in a role he doesn’t much value? It works out for both of them.


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