Vice President Casts Historic Vote

Pence casting vote in Senate; Photo courtesy of fivethirtyeight.com

On Feb. 7, Vice-President Mike Pence broke a tie for a cabinet nominee for the first time in history. The nominee was Betsy DeVos, whom President Trump nominated for Secretary of Education. DeVos drew heavy criticism after her rocky confirmation hearing, where she was unable to adequately answer some questions posed to her.

Even though Republicans have a two seat majority in the Senate, two moderate Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, came out in opposition to DeVos claiming she was unqualified to hold the office of Education Secretary.

The move came as a surprise to many because this is the first major break from the establishment under the Trump administration with Mitch McConnell leading the Senate. The move received mixed reviews from Americans with some claiming the move to praiseworthy from breaking with the Republican Party and others claiming the move traitorous.

Since the modern use of the Senate filibuster, the Vice-President, who is constitutionally the President of the Senate, rarely casts tie-breaking let alone makes an appearance in the Senate.  Pence has only been in office for three weeks and had to use the power, and former Vice-President Joe Biden never got the opportunity to use the tie-breaker.

Regardless, Secretary DeVos will have a challenge leading the Education Department, which presides over more than 98,000 public schools and more than 4,000 degree-granting institutions. With DeVos now confirmed, all of Trump’s Cabinet picks should be confirmed.

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