Yesterday President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed but it was not done without more challenges for the President. DeVos was confirmed by the tie breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. Pence was forced to vote because the Senate voted 50-50 in the confirmation and Pence’s vote broke the tie to ensure DeVos was confirmed as the new Secretary of Education.
Although the Senate has a majority of Republicans the vote was close. Two Republican Senators crossed party lines to vote against DeVos’s confirmation, Senator Susan Collins from Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska. Collins, Murkowski and Senator Rand Paul are the only Republicans to vote against a Trump nominee for a cabinet post. Paul voted against Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, who was eventually confirmed to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
To date these are the only 3 Republican Senators to cross party lines in Cabinet position votes this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted present for his wife, Elaine L. Chao, to be Secretary of Transportation. She won by a large majority. Senator Jeff Sessions did not vote in two cases, for John Kelly as Homeland Security Secretary and for Secretary James Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Sessions did this in part because he is expected to be confirmed later this week for US Attorney General. (See portion of chart below from the New York Times)
This is not the first time Senator Collins voted against her party. In 2009, Senator Collins voted with two other Republicans, fellow Senator from Maine Olympia Snowe and Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania, as the only three Republicans in either the House or the Senate to vote for President Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ bill. The Stimulus ended up being a $819 billion economic recovery plan that did very little for the US economy and ultimately became another failed Obama promise.
Senator Collins now will be remembered as the only US Senator or Representative in the history of the nation to vote for Obama’s fake Stimulus package and against a President Trump Cabinet member during the confirmation process.
Democrats can say all they want about the Republicans not crossing party lines for these confirmations. However, there is no Democratic member of the House or Senate who can say they voted against the Stimulus and for a Trump Presidential Cabinet member. None.