Democrats stage all-night sit-in to protest Betsy DeVos' confirmation
Having exhausted all other options, Democrats in the Senate announced Monday afternoon they will hold the floor all night to draw attention to the looming confirmation vote for President Donald Trump's secretary of education nominee, charter school and religious education advocate Betsy DeVos.
"Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours, until the final vote, to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us," Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said, reported the Hill.
Republicans plan to hold a vote on DeVos, who has perhaps attracted the most bitter resistance from Democrats of all of Trump's cabinet appointees, on Tuesday. Democrats convinced two Republican senators to oppose her, leaving the likeliest outcome of the confirmation a 50-50 tie.
If the Senate reaches a deadlock over DeVos' confirmation, it would necessitate Vice President Mike Pence to invoke his powers as president of the Senate and cast the first tie-breaking vote in a cabinet confirmation in U.S. political history.
Democrats cannot prevent a vote. Cabinet nominees only require 51 votes to be confirmed.
But amidst controversy about President Donald Trump's comments about Russia and courts striking down his immigration ban, it could refocus the camera on DeVos. Democrats hope to use that attention to pressure at least one more Republican to flip and oppose Trump's education secretary nominee.
DeVos had several cringeworthy moments during her confirmation process. The billionaire philanthropist and GOP mega-donor struggled to answer multiple questions from Democratic senators during hearings. In one particularly high-profile incident, DeVos was unable to field a question from Minnesota Sen. Al Franken on the difference between growth and proficiency, a basic concept in education management. The resulting exchange went viral on social media.
In another exchange, DeVos responded to a question about whether firearms should be allowed in schools by citing an almost totally fictional fear of bear attacks on rural students.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine last week said they would not support DeVos. Other Republican senators Democrats had hoped to flip, like Dean Heller of Nevada, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, said last week they will support DeVos.
Will Drabold contributed additional reporting to this article.