Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as the US Secretary of Education in a historic vote.
Today (7 February), the Senate confirmed DeVos, but only with the help of Vice President Mike Pence.
He had to cast the tie-breaking vote, making it a 51-50 decision.
According to the New York Times it was the first time a Vice President was summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination.
Amongst those voting against DeVos were two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
In back-to-back speeches they said they believed DeVos to be unqualified, because she is not familiar with public schools or laws to protect students.
Both Senators also said they had been influenced by thousands of messages sent to them.
The NYT called Murkowksi’s and Collins’ vote ’a sign that some of President Trump’s party are willing to go against him’.
In the past, DeVos has been accused of supporting harmful and dangerous ‘gay cure’ therapy.
According to Politico, she has also been in talks with Republican Senator James Lankford, about the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
During these talks, Lankford reportedly stressed he believes some of the office’s work to be federal overreach.
One of the overreaching regulations, for him, was Title IX which explicitly protects transgender students from discrimination.
This sparked fears she might be trying to abolish laws and regulations protecting LGBTI students.
DeVos’ family also has a long-standing history of supporting anti-LGBTI causes.
Through The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation as well as the new Education Secretary’s own, The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, they funded anti-LGBTI campaigns and organizations.
The benefactors include Focus On the Family, which on their website state ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity’.
They received a $10 million (€9.34 million, £7.98 million) donation from the DeVos family.
But when Senator Al Franken questioned her about the donations, prior to her confirmation, DeVos said she ‘never believed’ in conversion therapy.
‘I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination,’ she said.
‘So let’s start there and let me just say that your characterization of our contributions I don’t think accurately reflects those of my family. I would hope that you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family.’