US Senate confirms controversial Trump pick Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Michigan billionaire Betsy De Vos was confirmed as the new U.S. Education Secretary Tuesday following a split Senate vote

"I congratulate Betsy DeVos on her confirmation as our nation's next Secretary of Education".

DeVos-whose flimsy qualifications and financial conflicts of interest made her one of president Donald Trump's most contentious cabinet picks-scraped through the Senate by a 51-50 vote.

Democrats were unable to convince another Republican to defect, despite an intense lobbying effort that culminated with an all-night Democratic talk-a-thon Monday night into Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Iowa State President Steven Leath commented on DeVos during an interview with the Iowa State Daily last Wednesday, saying that when it comes to what to expect from the new secretary, many in higher education don't know.

"Citizens consistently want good public schools", he said.

In a statement from the Altoona School District Superintendent, Connie Biedron, she says "I think it's a travesty and a low blow for education in the country". Prior to her bid for the secretary chair, the 59-year-old billionaire heiress was best known for her family's donations to campaigns and super PACs and for serving on the board of several education-related organizations.

Both Maine senators had previously expressed concerns with DeVos's lack of commitment to and understanding of public schools. She's never been a teacher or an administrator. "Senator Rubio looks forward to voting to confirm her".

DeVos later acknowledged "I may have confused it" and she subsequently sent a letter to Sen.

Two Republicans joined Democrats Tuesday in a vote to derail DeVos' nomination. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, according to the Washington Post.

DeVos' nomination has been one of Trump's most polarizing nominations yet; senators have said they have received thousands of calls from concerned constituents opposing her candidacy.

In his statement on DeVos, Gardner said that he believed it is important that the leader of the federal Department of Education be someone "who will fight for public schools".