Right Hooks

Is Education Nominee Headed for Rejection?

Probably not, but GOP defectors leave a razor-thin margin.

Jordan Candler · Feb. 2, 2017

Betsy DeVos has the perfect profile for shaking up the Department of Education, which is in desperate need of reform, as many Americans in failing school districts know firsthand. That’s also why her nomination is one of the more disputed ones. And the fear that DeVos will take the agency in a completely different direction culminated into an unfortunate turn of events on Wednesday, when Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both declared they would not be supporting the nominee.

In terms of numbers, this splits the Senate exactly in half — 50 in support and 50 opposed. Assuming this holds, that would mean it’s up to Vice President Mike Pence to break the stalemate. Collins defended her defection by stating, “[DeVos] appears to view education through the lens of her experience of promoting alternatives to public education in Detroit and other cities.” As if that’s a bad thing. Murkowski added, “I think Mrs. DeVos has much to learn about our nation’s public schools.” Notice a theme here? Both prefer the status quo when it comes to public schools. And there’s a reason for that: The senators are union-supported.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that they “have each benefited from contributions from the National Education Association. Collins received $2,000 from the union in 2002 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Murkowski, meanwhile, has received $23,500.” The Free Beacon adds, “The NEA represents 3 million members, making it the wealthiest and most influential union in the country. The NEA, along with other labor groups like the American Federation of Teachers, has waged a fierce campaign against DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist and school choice activist.”

The Left sees education as the holy grail of indoctrination, and it’s unfortunate Collins and Murkowski are falling into the same claptrap. The fact they are putting their votes in play also puts Democrats in the position of demanding special concessions from Republicans on other matters in return for their votes, if two will step up. The good news is that, assuming nobody else defects, DeVos still has a decent chance of being confirmed next week, albeit barely. Sadly, regardless of the outcome, it will be tarnished by the reality some Republicans were too afraid to make education great again.

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