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Democrats pull an all-nighter in hopes of derailing DeVos confirmation

The Michigan billionaire and educational reformer has proven to be President Donald Trump's most controversial executive nominee.
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Democrats spent all night speaking on the Senate floor in a desperate attempt to stop the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

Minority leader Sen. Charles Schumer is urging GOP senators to join Democrats in opposing the confirmation of DeVos, a Michigan billionaire philanthropist and major Republican Party donor, the Washington Post reports.

Two Republican senators have already confirmed they intended to vote against her – Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) – after a massive response from constituents, the newspaper notes.

These two GOPers joining all Democrats in opposition would mean a 50-50 tie in the Senate. What happens then? Well it would require the deadlock to be broken by Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Hill.

With Pence almost certain to vote in her favor, Democrats plan on holding the floor until the vote at noon ET Tuesday, in the hope they can persuade another Republican to cross the aisle. That would give them a 51-49 advantage, avoiding a possible Pence tiebreaker.

Politico notes that what the Democrat senators are doing isn't a filibuster that delays or blocks a vote. Instead, by holding the floor overnight they are drawing attention to the issue in the hope it puts more public pressure on Republican senators to vote against her.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has been among the most vocal critics of DeVos' appointment, describing her senate confirmation hearing as "the most embarrassing" he's ever attended, and saying she "seemed unfamiliar with some of the most basic issues in education today."

He, along with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, were among the Democrats who held the floor Monday. Klobuchar (watch her speech here at the 1 hour, 35 minute mark) spoke of her mother being a public school teacher, saying she is voting "no" in Tuesday's hearing because she has concerns DeVos won't fulfill a commitment that every child deserves a good education.

You can watch Franken's speech at the 9 hour, 29 minute mark here or read what he had to say here.

Controversial pick

DeVos' nomination for the position has proven to be maybe the most controversial nominee from President Donald Trump.

She has been criticized by teaching groups, labor unions and rights groups for her record of educational activism in her home state. She's spent money there pushing to expand taxpayer-funded voucher programs, giving families vouchers to help pay tuition at private or religious schools, TheRoot reports.

A supporter of charter schools, the ACLU claims her work in Michigan involved "elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools," the BBC reports, and opponents fear her appointment will lead to the privatization of education.

She also hit the headlines following her aforementioned appearance at her senate confirmation hearing, where among other notable comments she suggested schools in Wyoming might need guns on campus to protect against grizzly bears.

Her supporters however describe her as a tireless champion of school choice, and say her passion for education cannot be understated.

One of the Republican senators who has pledged to support her is Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who said he's backing her partly "because of her support for local control, instead of having the federal government dictate education policy at the state and local level," the Highland County Press reports.

Michigan Republicans praised her nomination too, saying it shows Trump is serious about building an education system that puts "kids first and parents in the driving seat," MLive reports.

Despite what's being called "unprecedented" opposition, DeVos will likely be confirmed Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times says.

You can watch the live Senate speeches below.

Senate Debates DeVos Nomination

ABC News is LIVE as the Senate Democrats hold the floor for the 24 hours leading to the vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. DeVos’ confirmation became imperiled last week when two Republican senators announced they would not support her nomination.

Posted by ABC News Politics on Monday, 6 February 2017

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