The vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has been delayed until Tuesday January 31st. Many don’t see the delay as a sign of her nomination being rejected. But maybe what’s happened in the past few weeks is a good sign. A ray of sunshine to an otherwise dreary day.
CREDO Action reports that 1.8 million supporters have signed the petition over the past three weeks (CREDO Action).
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, says that more than one million people have used an online form to email their senators to urge opposition to DeVos (Washington Post). NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “In my years as a public education advocate, I have never witnessed this level of public outcry.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) reported receiving 50,000 emails and letters. Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) office reported receiving over 25,000 (USuncut).The offices of both Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) report their offices have been inundated with phone calls. Corker’s office staffers reported having answered 10,000 calls just in the past week (WBIR).
A spokeswoman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said her office has received more calls than usual in the past week asking to vote against DeVos. Most callers are not Murkowski’s constituents, the spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO.) said his office is also receiving more calls than usual. “We are grateful that our constituents are speaking out and getting involved,” she said.
Bennet, Kaine and Murkowski are all members of the Senate Committee on HELP, which must approve DeVos’s nomination before the full Senate can vote (Washington Post).
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and has received money from the DeVos family, no surprise there. According to The Huffington Post, the majority of his constituency – both Democrats and Republicans- are opposed to her nomination, yet he has shown no sign of wavering his support. “If he votes her in, contrary to the wishes of the Tennesseans he represents, we will continue to keep his mailbox full and eventually vote him out in 2020″ (Huffington Post).
If you live in one of these states, call your senator. Even if you don’t, call any or all of them:
Susan Collins (ME) 207.622.8414..&..202.224.2523
Lamar Alexander (TN) 615.736.5129..&..202.224.4944
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 907.586.7277..&..202.224.6665
Johnny Isakson (GA) 770.661.0999..&..202.224.3643
Orrin Hatch (UT) 801.524.4380..&..202.224.5251
Richard Burr (NC) 336.631.5125..&..202.224.3154
Michael Enzi (WY) 202.224.3424
Dr. Bill Cassidy (LA) 202.224.5824
Pat Roberts (KS) 202.224.4774
Tim Scott (SC) 202.224.6121
Rand Paul (KY) 202.224.4343
Is there a chance she won’t get the vote?
“In 228 years of the executive branch, the Senate has outright rejected only nine Cabinet nominations, while 11 were withdrawn or not acted on by the Senate,” Business Insider’s Rebecca Harrington reported.
The last cabinet nominee to be formally rejected was Senator John Tower, George H.W. Bush’s pick for secretary of defense, in 1989.
According to Al Franken (D-MN), every Democrat on the committee will vote against Mrs. DeVos, while no Republicans have said they will vote against her, suggesting DeVos is still likely to win confirmation. Apparently it would only take three Republican senators to vote against her to sink the nomination.
While I have written several blogs on DeVos and my opposition to her appointment, I don’t want to let the moment pass without some encouragement in knowing how many people have stood up, let their voices be heard, emailed, called, written, signed a petition, and carried a sign at one of the many women’s marches.
Thomas Jefferson said the purpose of education is to create an informed electorate. We will be more informed in the coming years. Activism is strong. Good for us. This is what democracy looks like.
These are my reflections for today.