Betsy DeVos confirmed as education secretary

Vice President Pence casts historic tie-breaking vote

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as education secretary in President Donald Trump's cabinet. 

Vice President Mike Pence's vote broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate. The vice president's tie-breaking vote on a cabinet nomination is the first in the history of the Senate, according to the Senate historian's office.

Watch the historic moment:

DeVos is a wealthy GOP donor who has devoted herself to promoting charter schools and private school vouchers, sparking concerns among educators that she won't be a strong champion for the nation's public school systems.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was quick to release her statement against the DeVos confirmation: 

"I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans confirmed Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education. I’ve heard from an overwhelming number of Michigan families who have shared their strong concerns about her long record of pushing policies that have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children. That is why I joined with half of my Senate colleagues, including two Republicans, to oppose her nomination," Stabenow's statement reads.

But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he expects DeVos will be "an excellent" education secretary. Here is his statement on the confirmation:

"For 28 years, Betsy DeVos has made it her mission to ensure children receive a quality education, and now she will be able to do that on a much large scale. Secretary DeVos will be an excellent Secretary of Education, fixing our schools and at the same time providing children and families choices to find the school that fits their needs."

Clearly there is a harsh split, primarily down the party lines, among national and state leaders on whether DeVos is the right person for the job. 

READ: A closer look at Betsy DeVos

It's no surprise DeVos has the support of Michigan's charter school association, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Dan Quisenberry, who is MAPSA's president, released this statement on the confirmation: 

"We congratulate Secretary DeVos on her confirmation, and we’re confident that she’s going to be an excellent and effective advocate for every student in America,” Quisenberry said. "Having worked closely with her in the past on issues in Michigan, we know that she has put the interests of kids before adults, parents before institutions, and students’ success before politics. Secretary DeVos can now get to work improving educational outcomes and opportunities across the country. Every student in this country deserves an opportunity to reach his or her greatest potential, and we’re committed to doing our part here in Michigan. Michigan’s charter schools have blazed the trail toward higher student achievement, and we need to continue along that path. It’s not time to celebrate. It’s time to get to work."

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