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Senate Advances Betsy DeVos' Nomination for Education Secretary

Early Friday morning, the Senate began voting procedures to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of  Education. The simple majority vote advances DeVos’ confirmation, moving it to a final vote next week.

To be confirmed, DeVos will need 51 Senators to vote in her favor. Currently, the Senate is made up of 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), announced they would not vote for DeVos. If the remaining 50 Republicans vote for DeVos, and the vote is tied 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence will be required to break the tie.

On Wednesday, at the White House’s daily briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House has “zero” concern and “100 percent confidence” DeVos will be confirmed. Noting, “I think that the games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad. She is someone who has been a tireless advocate over the last couple of decades.”

Parents and educators concerned by DeVos’ lack of teaching qualifications and views on public education, including her limited knowledge of federal protections for special needs students, have petitioned lawmakers not to vote for DeVos.

Despite calls for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), identified by Huffington Post as a potential swing vote, to vote against DeVos, Toomey gave his support to the candidate late Thursday, The Hill reports.

“I am pleased to vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education,” Toomey said in a statement. “Too many American kids are being left behind every day. That is not acceptable to Betsy DeVos, and it is not acceptable to me.”

The final vote to confirm DeVos will continue after the requisite 30 hours of debate have passed, most likely Tuesday morning.