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Trump White House makes final push for Betsy DeVos, warns Democrats one vote short of blocking her


Today starts the final vote process on Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education. (Under Senate debate rules, Democrats could push the vote to Tuesday.)

Despite the assurance of President Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer the confirmation is a cinch,  the administration is making a last-ditch push today for DeVos in an email solicitation.

The Michigan billionaire and mega Republican donor ran into trouble last week when two Republican senators announced they will not approve her, citing her lack of education experience. The announcement by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, set off a flurry of politicking on both sides and an unusual 6:30 a.m. Senate vote Friday to advance the DeVos nomination.

While no other Republican senator has indicated a defection, the Trump White House wants to counter the vocal opposition to DeVos. Opponents have at times overwhelmed the voicemail and phone lines of Georgia's two GOP senators, neither of whom seems inclined to break ranks with their party.

DeVos did not help her cause with a lackluster hearing, in which she garbled special education law, waffled on accountability for charter schools and said rural schools in Wyoming might want guns to protect against grizzlies. (The state bans guns in its schools.)

She has drawn some big-name backers, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. "Betsy DeVos will take on the entrenched special interests in American education that have put the interests of adults ahead of school children for too long," Bush said in a statement.

Trump allies received this email today:

Friend,

We need your help.

Democrats are JUST ONE VOTE AWAY from blocking President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Betsy has dedicated her life to fighting for greater education opportunities for children in lower-income neighborhoods, and to protecting YOUR fundamental right to send your child to the school that represents your values.

We’re asking you to represent your zip code and stand with Betsy BEFORE the vote is officially cast.

Please sign our official petition to show YOUR support for President Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.

We’re asking you to remind your representatives that education is the bedrock of our nation. The values we instill in our children will have dire consequences for our country’s future.

Democrats want to expand the federal government’s overreach into our local schools, and further corrode your freedom and choices as a parent.

Betsy understands that families should be the chief decision-makers - NOT Washington bureaucrats.

Betsy’s defeat would signal a major loss for the school choice movement that has worked so hard to get where we are today.

We can’t let it happen, Friend.

Please speak up on behalf of your zip code to show your support.

Thank you,

Trump Headquarters


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.