Alexander Oversees Tight Vote To Advance DeVos As Education Secretary | Nashville Public Radio

Alexander Oversees Tight Vote To Advance DeVos As Education Secretary

Jan 31, 2017

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander helped shepherd President Trump's pick for Education Secretary through an intense committee vote Tuesday.

Alexander chairs the education committee, where Democrats had asked for more time to question billionaire school choice advocate Betsy DeVos. Alexander said there was no point.

"Those who are asking the questions have already announced that they're voting no, even before she could answer the last round of questions that they asked," Alexander said in an opening statement.

Alexander gave a final plug for DeVos, attempting to beat back criticism about her lack of experience with public education. He had gone on the offensive over the last week, writing editorials to laud DeVos and says she is not an education “extremist” as Democrats have accused.

But one of Alexander's central arguments was that senators should defer to the president, just as he did under President Obama.

Activists spent the weekend trying to convince Alexander to rethink confirmation of DeVos, gathering outside his Nashville office on West End Ave.

Robb McCluskey is an interior designer and former teacher who said he has a lot of respect for Sen. Alexander, who is a former U.S. Secretary of Education and governor of Tennessee.

“He had wonderful women working for him when he was governor of the state of Tennessee at a high level," he said. "Betsy DeVos couldn’t tie the shoelaces for any of those women.”

McCluskey said the country needs someone who has experience in public education. DeVos' resume is primarily dominated by her donations to charter school and voucher advocacy.

DeVos advanced to the full senate by a one-vote margin.

Erin Logan contributed to this report.