Trump's Education nominee DeVos confirmed as Pence casts historic tie-breaking vote

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education secretary, needing an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence to push through the divisive nomination.

The Senate vote on President Donald Trump's choice ended in a 50-50 tie. Pence then became the first vice president to break a Senate stalemate in a Cabinet confirmation vote. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber, but two moderate GOP senators voted against DeVos amid a flurry of constituent complaints, forcing the move.

Democrats protested DeVos on the Senate floor through the night in a last-minute bid to block confirmation, following demonstrations from teachers around the country. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only Senate Republicans to oppose DeVos. Democrats needed one more defector to block the nomination.

DeVos is the wife of, Richard Marvin DeVos Jr., whose billionaire father co-founded Amway.

While the vote was largely along party lines, school choice, which DeVos backs, enjoys support in red and blue states. Critics have raised concerns that she could undermine public schools, which many senators said she did not understand after her confirmation hearing.

DeVos (pronounced dih-VAHS'), a 59-year-old charter school advocate, philanthropist and longtime Republican donor, faced the most resistance in the Senate of all Trump's nominees. Trump and DeVos' supporters have hailed her as a reformist who will give students more choice in their education, but concerns about her qualifications mounted after her confirmation hearing.

Education advocates have seized on the fact that DeVos neither attended public school nor worked in education. An exchange in which she appeared to confuse education philosophies in which students are measured by growth in a year or proficiency relative to their grade level gained traction among educators.

In a Twitter statement Tuesday, DeVos said she wanted to "improve options and outcomes for all U.S. students."

Trump contended Tuesday that Democrats had tried to "keep the failed status quo."

Following Pence's vote, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., argued that the need for Pence to make the deciding vote showed how "unqualified" and "divisive" DeVos is.

Opposition to DeVos jammed up Senate office phones in the days befoer the vote. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., for example, said he received more than 100,000 calls against DeVos, more than on any other issue since he took office in 2007.

She is the sixth Trump Cabinet appointment confirmed by the Senate.

DeVos not sharpest tool in shed: Brill