The nominee was Betsy DeVos. The tie was because two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins (ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted against their party.
In back-to-back floor speeches, the lawmakers said Ms. DeVos was unqualified because of a lack of familiarity with public schools and with laws meant to protect students, despite her passion for helping them.
Shout-outs to these two Senators have already begun. They are misplaced.
Had either of these senators — Collins or Murkowski — voted against DeVos in committee, her nomination would never have come before the Senate.
DeVos “passed” the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on a 12-11 party-line vote. Collins and Murkowski both voted to RECOMMEND that DeVos be elevated to Secretary of Education.
Nothing has “come out” about DeVos in the week between the committee vote and the full Senate vote that is “new”. If DeVos is unqualified today, as both Senators contend, she was unqualified then.
In other words, Collins and Murkowski have a lot of explaining to do to their constituents. And the nation. Because the work of Congress takes place in committee.
Senators and Representatives cannot have subject matter expertise — or subject matter staff — on every issue that comes before the legislative body. They delegate those tasks to other legislators, just like voters delegate subject matter expertise to elected representatives. The world is too complex for anyone to know everything about everything.
Although Collins and Murkowski bear responsibility for the HELP Committee recommendation, GOP moderates bear responsibility for her being elevated to a position that she seems qualified for only by virtue of her $200 million gift to the GOP. Lust for power trumps common sense, much less common decency.
No swamps are being drained.
Photo credit: official Senate photos of Collins (in blue) and Murkowski (in red).