Despite Opposition, Pat Toomey Votes to Confirm Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education today — with Pat Toomey's help.

Pat Toomey; Betsy DeVos

Despite determined constituent opposition, Pat Toomey voted on Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, as he repeatedly said he would. The vote to confirm DeVos tied at 50; Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaker — the first time a V.P. has had to break a tie over a cabinet nominee.

“I am pleased to vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education,” Toomey said in a release earlier this month. “Betsy DeVos has spent nearly three decades of her life, tens of millions of dollars, and considerable personal energy toward one noble goal: ensuring that poor children trapped in failing schools have the same opportunities that wealthy and middle class kids already have.”

Over the past few weeks, Toomey’s office was inundated with calls and faxes. One woman raised money to “buy Toomey’s vote” on DeVos, since she’d given $55,800 to Toomey’s election campaigns; that effort has raised more than $70,000.

Just today, the weekly “Tuesdays with Toomey” protest gathered again outside his Philadelphia office at 17th Street and JFK in 8 Penn Center. There is already talk of supporting his opponent in the next election. Toomey, of course, won reelection last November; his term goes until 2022.

“Since the announcement of Betsy DeVos’ nomination, parents, teachers, students, and communities across the country rose up to defend a vision of public education that serves all children,” said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym, a vocal local opponent of DeVos’ nomination. “Both the newly activated and veterans of the struggle for quality public schools logged millions of calls, tens of thousands of faxes, and countless office visits to urge our senators to vote for their constituents, not their donors. … Ms. DeVos’ unprecedented tie-breaker vote is a sign of our power — and it’s a signal that the nation has rejected the top-down, dark money agenda to close public schools, expand vouchers, and strip students with disabilities and students living in poverty of their hard-won civil rights.”