Betsy DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary; Gardner Votes Yes, Bennet No

Photo: Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos (AP Photo)
President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos pose for photographs at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. on Nov. 19, 2016. Trump has chosen charter school advocate DeVos as Education Secretary in his administration.

Vice President Mike Pence had to take to the Senate floor to break a 50-50 tie in order to confirm Betsy DeVos as President Trump's pick for Secretary of Education.

Colorado's votes on her nomination split on party lines, with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner a "yes" vote and Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet a "no."

In his statement on DeVos, Gardner said that he believed it is important that the leader of the federal Department of Education be someone "who will fight for public schools." Gardner's statement continued to say that DeVos had pledged to the senator that "she would advocate for public schools, teachers and educational opportunity for all."

Gardner called the debate around Betsy DeVos' nomination a "health exercise of our democracy."

My full statement on Betsy DeVos's confirmation below. I will continue to advocate for public schools & educational opportunity for all.

Ahead of the vote, Sen. Bennet had urged his fellow senators to vote no, speaking on the Senate floor Monday night to say, "In our nation, education is supposed to be at the hear of opportunity. But today, our education system fails far too many kids."

Two Republicans joined Democrats Tuesday to vote to derail DeVos' nomination. Democrats cited her lack of public school experience and financial interests in organizations pushing charter schools. DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska fear that DeVos' focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports Gardner was one of 12 Republicans who got campaign donations of more than $46,000 from DeVos. Bennet received $489,000 from education groups.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Feb. 8, 2017 to include information from the Center for Responsive Politics on the financial ties of both Colorado senators, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet.