The Latest: DeVos sworn in as education secretary

AP News
Posted: Feb 07, 2017 6:11 PM
The Latest: DeVos sworn in as education secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on Senate consideration of President Donald Trump's Cabinet picks:

6:05 p.m.

Betsy DeVos has been sworn in as the U.S. education secretary, hours after her nomination was approved by the Senate in a vote that required Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie.

DeVos was sworn in by Pence in a ceremony at the vice president's ceremonial office. Pence says it was "the easiest vote I ever cast."

Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined Democrats to attempt to derail the nomination of the longtime Republican donor and activist.

Pence's vote was the first by a vice president to break a 50-50 tie on a Cabinet nomination.


1:25 p.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says she is impressed with President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein met with Judge Neil Gorsuch on Monday. She said Tuesday that "he's a very caring person and he's obviously legally very smart."

She added: "I think we are dealing with someone who is impressive, so we'll see."

She stopped short of saying she would vote for him, noting it's a lifetime appointment and Gorsuch is only 49.

Because of expected Democratic procedural maneuvers, Republicans will need the support of 60 out of the Senate's 100 members to move to a confirmation vote on Gorsuch. Republicans have a 52-48 majority, so at least eight Democrats will have to vote with Republicans.


12:55 p.m.

The nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general has cleared a hurdle in the Senate.

The Senate voted 52-47 on Tuesday to move ahead on the nomination. Confirmation is expected on Wednesday despite Senate Democrats' opposition to their colleague.

Democrats have questioned Sessions' commitment to civil rights, his opposition to many immigration laws and whether he will be independent of President Donald Trump as the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Sessions was one of Trump's earliest and strongest supporters.

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Sessions "is probably the most anti-immigrant member of this body, Democrat or Republican. And many of us on this side believe immigrants are an asset to America, not a liability."


12:30 p.m.

The Senate has confirmed school choice activist Betsy DeVos as Education secretary, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie.

The Senate historian says it was the first time a vice president had to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination.

Two Republicans joined Democrats Tuesday to vote to derail DeVos' nomination. Democrats cited her lack of public school experience and financial interests in organizations pushing charter schools. DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations.

Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska fear that DeVos' focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.

In an earlier tweet, President Donald Trump wrote "Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!"


12:25 p.m.

The Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee has backed physician David Shulkin to be veterans affairs secretary.

President Donald Trump's nominee was approved unanimously in the panel on Tuesday, having pledged during his confirmation hearing that he would not privatize the beleaguered department. Trump had previously called for a radical overhaul at the VA to fix problems such as long wait times for medical care.

The 57-year-old Shulkin has been an undersecretary of health at the VA since 2015.

He would be the first non-veteran to head the VA and the lone former Obama administration official serving in Trump's Cabinet.

Shulkin's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where he is expected to be easily approved. That vote could come as early as next week.