In Historic Tiebreaker, Betsy DeVos Confirmed for Secretary of Education


For the first time in History, the Vice President of the United States was the deciding vote in a cabinet nomination. Vice President Mike Pence had to break a 50-50 tie to confirm Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, bringing the vote to 51-50.

        The vote was very sharply divided along partisan lines. All Democrats in the Senate and both independents voted against Ms. DeVos’s confirmation, along with two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. All other Republican Senators voted yes.

        Critics have called DeVos “unqualified” due to a lack of experience in public schools and federal student aid, while supporters cited her long history of donations and support for charter schools, school voucher policies, and public school reform policies. Those opposed to DeVos include public school officials and members of the public who say she, as a political donor, is too disconnected from the concerns of students and parents. Others, especially conservative lawmakers and education reformers, say that DeVos has been on the forefront of reforming public schools to promote choice, and that Democrats are opposing DeVos mainly because a Republican president nominated her.

        Despite a 24-hour show of opposition from Democratic senators leading up to the nomination on the Senate floor, the opposition party did not have any further options to prevent DeVos’s confirmation, and were unable to sway any more Republicans to vote no.


Also this week:


… From Local News

        In Providence, lawmakers have proposed a bill in the General Assembly which would allow the Department of Human Services to conduct random drug tests on cash-assistance ‘welfare’ recipients. Those testing positive would lose assistance until re-applying, exempting childrens’ benefits.

        National Grid, which provides electricity to much of Rhode Island, plans to replace overhead wires that will run across the Seekonk River in Providence. After complaints about the wires’ visibility, the Providence City Council is considering alternative options like underground wiring.

        In South Kingstown, the construction of a seawall intended to reduce erosion and reduce the effects of storm flooding has caused controversy. The wall, positioned along Matunuck Beach Road, has received criticism from community groups and residents for construction concerns.


… From National News

        The United States Army has formally informed Congress that it will grant a permit to continue construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. President Donald Trump previously ordered an administrative review to overturn a decision by former President Obama to halt construction, despite protests.

        Hourly workers at General Motors in the U.S. will get a bonus of $12,000 this year after the car manufacturer posted record sales and profits of 12 billion dollars in North America, in accordance with a United Auto Workers Union profit-sharing agreement.


… From World News


As conflict continues in Syria, a rebel-occupied city in Idlib was targeted by more than ten airstrikes resulting in more than 20 casualties and numerous civilian deaths. It remains unclear which actor is responsible for the bombing.

        In Russia, President Vladimir Putin signed into law an amendment passed by the Russian Parliament 380 to 3 decriminalizing domestic violence which does not cause “substantial” bodily harm, categorizing them as administrative offenses that carry a fine.

        Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to stand trial over allegations of breaking campaign financing laws in 2012 to spend more than is legally allowable. The former President’s the Republican Party allegedly filed fraudulent invoices from a Public Relations firm.