This is the galvanizing moment we’ve been waiting for… Democratic Senators are filibustering, teachers are outside the Capital protesting, and we’re effectively shutting down the offices of those who haven’t yet come out against Betsy DeVos


[above: Photo by Evan Sutton from today’s protest in D.C. against embattled Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.]

The Senate vote on Betsy DeVos, the pyramid scheme billionaire turned anti-public education crusader who’s attempting to buy her way into Trump’s Cabinet, was supposed to happen today. And, the way things looked this morning, she was going to get the “return on investment” she expected, having donated significant amounts of money to 21 of the Senators who would be voting for her. Despite the fact that several Senate offices have essentially shut down under the unrelenting barrage of calls against the candidate, as of this morning only two Republican Senators had come out to say that they would cross the Trump administration and vote against DeVos, who, during her confirmation hearings, refused to say that, as Secretary of Education, she would fight to defend the civil rights of students with disabilities, among other things. But, as we were all contemplating the very real possibility of a 50/50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence stepping in to break the tie on behalf of DeVos, something miraculous happened…

As teachers began gathering outside the Capital to protest, our Democratic representatives in the Senate stepped up and announced that they would be holding the floor for 24 hours, in an attempt to convince just one more Republican to join them in pushing back against this, the most controversial of Trump’s Cabinet nominees. As Washington Senator Patty Murray said this morning on the floor of the Senate, “Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours, until the final vote, to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us.”

They started at noon, and the plan is to go all night. If you’d like to join me, you can watch all of it as it unfolds on C-SPAN. [As I’m tying this, one of DeVos’s most outspoken adversaries, Al Franken, has the podium.] I don’t suspect any Republican Senators will stay to listen, but we can, and should, call their offices to tell them what they’re missing.

Will these efforts on the part of Senate Democrats be successful in stopping DeVos, who many see as the least qualified Cabinet nominee to be considered by the Senate in our lifetimes? I suspect it’s unlikely, as several of the Republicans who were seen as being on the fence, like Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), John Hoeven (North Dakota), Dean Heller (Nevada), and Deb Fischer (Nebraska), have all come out publicly, under pressure from the administration, to say that they would be voting for DeVos. I love the fact, however, that the Democrats have come together to allow the pressure against their Republican colleagues to build for another 24 hours. As we discussed over the weekend, Pat Toomey’s office seems to be in absolute chaos as constituents keep calling, faxing and sending letters, and I’m sure that other Republican offices are feeling the same heat. And I’m not in any hurry to see that stop. Everyone should be up in arms and calling their Senators, either to thank them for doing the right thing, or letting them know that, if they support DeVos, who actually defended the presence of guns in schools during her confirmation hearing by raising the specter of grizzly attacks, there will be consequences come next election.

So, if you haven’t called yet, please do. It’s super easy. All you have to do is check the Senate directory, pick up and dial the phone, and say, “If the Senator ever wants my vote again, she had better vote against Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.”

We just have until noon on Tuesday, so let’s make this extra time we’ve been given count. We’re close on this one. Two Republicans have already turned, and, at least according to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, there may be others… “We may, in fact, have an additional Republican colleague voting ‘no,’ which would stop her tomorrow,” Stabenow told CNN’s Erin Burnett earlier this evening.

I know I don’t need to tell you this, but we cannot allow DeVos to do to America what she’s done in Michigan, removing all caps on for-profit charter schools, while, at the same time, guaranteeing virtually no oversight. If we do, it will be the end of public education in America as we know it. And it will have been our fault.

So call your Senators, and ask everyone you know to do the same, especially if they live in red states. This is a galvanizing moment, and what happens here, one way or the other, will reverberate for the next four years. Either we stand up together and stop this from happening, demonstrating that we, the people, still have power, and aren’t afraid to use it, or we allow them to keep testing us, pushing the limits further and further.

[For more background on DeVos and why she’s the wrong person to lead the Department of Education, read this: “We should have stopped Betsy DeVos when we had the chance.”]

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  1. anonymous
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The Greatest Generation gives way to the Generation that Gave Away Public Education.

  2. Meta
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Senator Chris Murphy says Republicans, although they know she’s not qualified, aren’t likely to vote against Trump until they get him to pass their economic agenda.

    From CNN:

    Murphy said it’s unlikely that the Democrats are going to get the 51st vote, but are going to try until the last minute.

    “I think Republicans have been very reluctant to break with Donald Trump in these first few weeks,” he said. “They’re not willing to challenge him on nominees that I think even they know in their heart of hearts aren’t qualified.”

    “I think it’s because they’re trying to co-opt him to get their economic agenda done,” Murphy added.

    Read more:

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    If you marched in any city on Jan 21, Sen. Diane Feinstein wants to hear from YOU. She has gotten a week’s delay of the Jeff Sessions confirmation vote. This is a direct request from her Chief of Staff: FEINSTEIN WANTS 2-4 SENTENCES FROM MARCHERS EXPLAINING WHY YOU MARCHED AND WHAT IT MEANT. She will be incorporating messages AND most likely the sheer NUMBER of emails she gets, in her opening statement at the Sessions hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    Send emails to:
    subject line: WHY I MARCHED

    Sessions vote to take place later this week. The deluge of citizen concern is having an impact. Even if it is only to get Dem representatives to wake up and fight aka stop normalizing.

  4. soft leather pants
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    There’s a riot in Bowling Green. People are tearing down their own houses, screaming about DeVos. Children are setting fire to banks. The rivers are running with blood.

  5. Tony
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Don’t just call. Threaten you’ll go to their town halls and get in their face. That you won’t let this go. And that you’ll go work for their opponent’s campaign.

  6. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    And don’t stop there. Don’t just tell them that you’ll work for their opponent in the general election. Tell them that you’ll work for their opponent in the primary, and give them money. That’ll scare them even more.

  7. Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Yesterday, I spent 1/2 day posting comments on a WSJ article about Betsy DeVos . For awhile I was battling (solo mio) many on the right who are convinced that the #one problem v Mrs. DeVos is the NEA. Fortunately, other commentators came on board to assist me. Facts were immaterial. I am convinced that the republican support of Betsy DeVos has more to do with their desire to annihilate their boogeyman, the NEA.

    I used a lot of the info from your posts. Thanks, Gronda

  8. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Agreed. When you kill public schools, you kill the teachers union, the biggest supporter of the Democratic party that there is.

  9. site admin
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    They seem to be counting votes now.

  10. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m hoping that John “I wasn’t much of a hero because I let myself get caught and tortured” McCain might find his backbone and vote against DeVos.

  11. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Pence voted for her and she won 51/50.

  12. Liz DMG
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I logged on late. What the fuck happened? Was there any sort of filibuster?

  13. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I don’t know that it actually qualified as a “filibuster” but the Democrats held the floor for 24 hours, starting yesterday at noon. As soon as they wrapped up, today at noon, the vote happened. The Dems gave us another 24 hours, but we couldn’t persuade a third Republican to join us.

  14. S. Hutchings
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    This was sadly a realistic outcome but I still think it was a success. More people raised their voice (phone, mail, in person) than any other candidate or issue (at least as far as I am aware). Now going forward, may I suggest:

    -we stay informed about every action she leads (and point it out everywhere)
    -we support cause to counter any harm created
    -we demand equivalence. If you want to use public dollars for “choice, give us accountability… period. She has fought that here in Michigan, I think it will hurt them badly if we fight for that
    -and never let voters of the Senators up in 2018 forget their votes…

  15. EOS
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    At some point you will realize that protests, demonstrations, and phone calls are pointless when the votes aren’t there. It’s been three months. Time to face reality?

  16. M
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I love the way EOS digs himself out of the muck and floats up to the surface to gloat every time something like this happens. It’s so predictable. It’s like the coming of spring. I take some comfort in that.

  17. Demetrius
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    For the last eight years, Republicans (including members of the so-called “tea party”) made an art of raising hell at local candidate meetings; bombarding members of congress with a steady stream of letters, phone calls, and texts; and practically *demanding* their representatives block essential cabinet and judicial (including Supreme Court) appointments – not to mention vote against important (and often critical) legislation. (federal debt ceiling, anyone?)

    Now, however … Democrats are apparently supposed to “face reality” and remain quiet, patient, and passive while watching a band of traitorous plutocratsprepare to further enrich themselves and their cronies by selling off what’s left of our nation, and our democracy.

    The hypocrisy would be funny … if it weren’t so sad, predictable, and tiresome.

  18. Morbid Larson
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    EOS doesn’t seem to understand that democracy doesn’t work by people simply rolling over and letting the Party in power simply do what it wants.

    There is nothing “pointless” about being involved, particularly in preparation for the midterms.

    If we keep this up, we might be able to flip the House like it did in 2010 for Republicans.

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    As long as EOS is made uncomfortable, we are on the right track.

    Re: 2018 elections, it will be hard without redistricting reform, but Trump and co are making our jobs easier for us. They are alienating pretty much every sector and once the actions start to show impact, especially in the economy and healthcare, the already diminishing tide of support for him will turn.

    Fun fact: Apparently, the other day, Trump couldn’t recall if a strong or a weak dollar was good for the economy, so he called up Gen Mad Dog Mike Mattis, who reminded him that he is a military expert not an economist.

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