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Portman Bucks Pressure from Opposition and Endorses Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary


Update 11:06, Feb. 2, 2017: This story has been updated to reflect Rob Portman endorsement of Betsy DeVos this morning. Here's his statement: 

“I support Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education because during the confirmation process she committed to strongly support public education and because of her support for local control, instead of having the federal government dictate education policy at the state and local level.  I look forward to working with her to improve our K-12 public education system, make college more affordable, stand up for children with disabilities, and close the skills gap by promoting Career and Technical Education (CTE) to give young people more opportunities to succeed.

Two GOP senators have announced they’ll vote against Betsy DeVos to be education secretary, and opponents of her nomination have been ratcheting up the pressure on Republican Sen. Rob Portman to join them.

Portman acknowledged this week that most board of education members he’s met with oppose DeVos, and he had some concerns. But he says overall he’s been pleased with the answers she’s given him.

“I do think she is committed to education, I think she’s committed to public education. I think she’s committed particularly to underprivileged kids be able to get a better education. She’s put a lot of time and effort and money against that. I want to be sure she is supportive of our public schools and our public charter schools,  and she’s indicated she is.”

But in indicating they’ll go with the 48 Democrats expected to vote against DeVos, Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said DeVos’s concentration on for-profit charter schools and vouchers raises questions about her commitment to public schools. They also said they’re concerned with DeVos’ lack of knowledge about a 40-year-old law governing special education.

If no other Republican joins them, Vice President Mike Pence will vote to break the tie and approve DeVos.