Betsy DeVos, the businesswoman and billionaire Republican funder, was confirmed as Donald Trump's Education Secretary on Tuesday in one of the tightest votes for any Cabinet nominee in living memory.
The vote was 51-50. Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, cast a tiebreaking vote to cinch DeVos' confirmation after Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted against her. It was the first time a tiebreaking vote was needed for any Cabinet nominee in American history.
DeVos' win comes after a bitter battle waged against her nomination by education activists and Democratic senators alarmed at the nominee's total lack of public education experience and her disastrous confirmation hearing. There, DeVos stumbled over questions about fundamental education principals, and suggested that guns belong in schools to protect against potential grizzly bear attacks.
DeVos was long seen by critics as wildly unqualified to lead the DoE, and as someone who came to the nomination with a particularly troubling history given her potential role in the Trump administration.
In 2001, DeVos was quoted as bemoaning that the church had been "displaced" from education, and claiming that further school choice (presumably in the form of school vouchers, of which DeVos is an ardent supporter) would lead to "greater Kingdom gain."
DeVos' nomination also raised alarms among LGBTQ advocates, who feared that her associations with a number of extreme conservative groups would endanger the rights of LGBTQ students.
In the 24 hours proceeding Tuesday's vote, Democrats staged a round-the-clock senate session to protest DeVos' nomination. There, senator after senator stood and questioned both DeVos' qualifications, and her intentions for the Department of Education.