Betsy DeVos has become the new U.S. secretary of education thanks to a deciding vote made by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.
The controversial DeVos (R) was opposed by all 48 Democrats and two Republicans in the chamber.
The final tally was 51/50.
Last week Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) said they would be voting against her because they felt she was unqualified.
Late in 2016, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) grew concerned over the nomination criticizing DeVos’ support of “school choice” programs which allows companies to receive tax credits for contributing funds to non-profits that help pay for students to attend private schools.
“We have seen time and time again that so-called ‘school choice’ undercuts civil-rights enforcement and drains public education systems of desperately needed funds,” said Executive Director Eliza Byard of GLSEN in November.
The new secretary of education was also criticized by the LGBT advocacy organization Equality Federation for her ties with the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT Christian group heavily funded by her father, Edgar Prince.
“DeVos and her family foundations have donated millions of dollars to extreme, anti-LGBTQ organizations. Some have promoted dangerous, unscientific “conversion therapies” to convert LGBTQ youth and all of them have fought against basic nondiscrimination protections, school safety, and more,” said Director of Communications, Mark Snyder.
But it was at her confirmation hearing last month that DeVos was called to the carpet by Sen. Al Franken who asked if she believed in conversion therapy.
“Senator Franken,” DeVos responded. “I’ve never believed in that. First of all, let me say I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has been one of DeVos’ most ardent endorsers saying she has “worked tirelessly to give low income children more of the same choices wealthy children have.”
DeVos took to Twitter to thank the senate after her confirmation.
I appreciate the Senate’s diligence & am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let’s improve options & outcomes for all US students. – Betsy DeVos Twitter