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Senate Democrats Begin 24-Hour Protests Against Trump's Education Secretary Pick, Betsy DeVos

Senate Democrats Begin 24-Hour Protests Against Trump's Education Secretary Pick, Betsy DeVos

As the Senate prepared to vote on President Trump’s nominee for education secretary on Tuesday, Senate Democrats began their last-ditch effort to convince one more Republican to vote against her — which would block her confirmation.

Led by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member on the Senate committee charged with overseeing DeVos' confirmation, members of the minority party began what they said would be a 24 hours of floor speeches against Betsy DeVos, a Michigan advocate of charter schools and school vouchers.

The goal of the talkathon, Murray said, was to persuade one more of the 52 Republican senators to vote against DeVos. GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have already announced their no votes, which leaves DeVos with 50 Republican yes votes.

Vice President Mike Pence has already agreed to use his authority as the president of the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of DeVos, but Democrats insisted they would try to siphon off one additional Republican to shift the balance in their favor.

Democrats are taking advantage of the last available tactic they have to delay the vote on DeVos. For procedural reasons, the earliest the Senate may vote on her confirmation is Tuesday at noon, unless all 100 senators agree before then to move the vote up. Because that won’t happen, Democrats can eat up the remaining hours until the DeVos vote by railing against her on the Senate floor.

DeVos’ nomination has elicited above-average negative reactions from everyday voters, who have flooded Senate phone lines and email accounts in recent weeks. The office of Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Friday he had received more than 80,000 letters and emails urging him to vote no on DeVos’ confirmation.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Murray encouraged activists who have already called or emailed their senators to keep the pressure up until the vote.

“Double down on your advocacy. Keep making your voices heard for these last 24 hours,” she said.

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