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Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenTax reform an important part of pro-consumer energy policy We need congressional debate on Yemen The case against Gorsuch: It’s all about precedent MORE (D-Minn.) blasted Betsy DeVos, President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education, as Democrats staged a late-night protest over her nomination.
"During her hearing, Ms. DeVos proved beyond a shadow of a doubt not only that her ideology is fundamentally incompatible with the mission of the Department of Education, but that she is fundamentally incompetent to be its leader," Franken said Monday from the Senate floor.
"This is not a job for amateurs," the former "Saturday Night Live" comedian added.
Democrats are staging a 24-hour protest over DeVos's nomination ahead of the final vote expected to take place at noon Tuesday.
Franken pointed to DeVos's lack of experience in public education, her unfamiliarity with testing and her support for school vouchers —which he argued don't help low-income students — as a few of the myriad of reasons he will oppose her.
Franken said DeVos was "unable to answer basic questions" during her confirmation hearing.
"She wasn't reluctant to declare her opinion. She wasn't trying to strike a middle ground. She did not know what I was talking about," he said.
He called it "one of the most embarrassing scenes" he's seen since joining the Senate.
DeVos's performance was widely panned by pundits in both parties, and she particularly fumbled when asked by Franken about whether students should be measured by proficiency or growth.
"I believe it may have been one the most embarrassing performances by a nominee in the history of the United States Senate," he said on Monday night. "We would not accept a secretary of Defense who couldn't name the branches of the military. We wouldn't accept a secretary of State who couldn't identify Europe on a map."
Democrats aren't expected to ultimately be able block DeVos's nomination. She needs a simple majority to win final approval, and Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.
But with GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Overnight Finance: WH wants to slash billions | Border wall funding likely on hold | Wells Fargo to pay 0M over unauthorized accounts | Dems debate revamping consumer board Lawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities MORE (Maine) expected to vote against her, Republicans are poised to bring in Vice President Pence to break an expected 50-50 tie.
Franken urged his colleagues who had not watched the committee hearing to do so before Tuesday's vote, pointing to DeVos's suggestion that schools, at least in Wyoming, might need guns to help prevent grizzly bear attacks as an example of why they should vote against her.
"This was in answer to a question from Senator Murphy, who in Congress represented Sandy Hook. Who as a senator represents those parents" whose children were killed in a mass school shooting, he added.