Crapo says he will support DeVos nomination

Mike Crapo
Sen. Mike Crapo

(UPDATED, 12:40 p.m., Friday, with statement from Crapo’s office.)

As Betsy DeVos’ nomination comes down to a final vote, Sen. Mike Crapo says he will support President Trump’s controversial education secretary nominee.

“He will vote to confirm her,” Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said Friday afternoon. “DeVos says she favors more state and local control of education, and Crapo agrees with that principle.”

Sen. Jim Risch’s intentions remain unclear. Spokeswoman Kaylin Minton was not in Risch’s Washington, D.C., office Thursday, and said she could not confirm how he plans to vote.

Early Friday morning, Crapo and Risch supported a procedural motion that sets the stage for a final vote on the DeVos nomination Monday. This final vote figures to be razor-thin, and possibly historic.

Jim Risch
Sen. Jim Risch

The conventional wisdom holds that DeVos will be confirmed after a 50-50 tie vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote as president of the Senate.

That math assumes that the Senate’s 48 Democrats will oppose DeVos, and none have signaled support for her. It also assumes that Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska vote against DeVos, as they have said they would. (Collins and Murkowski voted with fellow Republicans on Friday’s procedural vote, which passed 52-48, on party lines.)

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But the 50-50 scenario for Monday’s vote also assumes that the remaining Republicans hold ranks and vote to confirm DeVos.

The DeVos nomination has polarized not only the Senate, but education groups on both ends of the political spectrum. School choice advocates point to the billionaire activist’s longstanding and vocal support of vouchers and charter school programs in her native Michigan. Opponents have questioned DeVos’ support of public education.

The vote comes as lawmakers say they have been flooded with calls from constituents who oppose Trump’s Cabinet choices and the president’s executive order banning travel from seven Middle East nations. Crapo’s office has fielded calls from opponents of the DeVos nomination, Nothern told Boise State Public Radio. Risch’s Boise staff is working behind locked doors and is not accepting drop-in visits, the Idaho Statesman reported this week.

Regardless of the final outcome, the DeVos nomination is heading into uncharted political waters.

A sitting vice president has never had to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination, POLITICO reported Wednesday. The last time the Senate rejected a Cabinet nominee of its own party came in 1925, the Washington Post reported.