Senate set for high-noon vote to confirm DeVos

The Senate is poised to vote on Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as secretary of Education at noon Tuesday, with Vice President Pence possibly casting a tie-breaking vote backing President Trump’s controversial Cabinet pick.

Republicans have only 50 votes behind DeVos with the defections of GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (Alaska), which could lead to a historic moment for Pence.

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He would be the first vice president to ever cast a decisive vote in a 50-50 tie over confirming a Cabinet nominee.

Pence would also be the first vice president to break a Senate tie since 2008, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney cast a vote on a tax adjustment plan.

No Democrats are backing DeVos, and no other Republicans are expected to break with her, despite a last-ditch effort by the minority party to put pressure on the GOP.

Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenMcConnell works to salvage tax bill GOP to reduce tax relief by 0B to win over deficit hawks  The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on Senate tax bill MORE (N.D.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems look to use Moore against GOP Senate hearing shows Fed chair nominee acts the part Senate GOP votes to begin debate on tax bill MORE (Nev.) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerUS trade deficit rises on record imports from China Flake, GOP senators to meet with Trump on trade Senate nixes provision boosting conservative college after uproar MORE (Neb.) — each considered potential swing votes — have announced their support for DeVos.

Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday pled with Republicans from the Senate floor, urging them not to put “party above country.”

“We need just one more vote, and we can get a lot better secretary of Education than the one who was nominated,” Schumer said.

Democrats have targeted eight Trump Cabinet picks, including DeVos, but Schumer argued that the Education pick is the “least qualified” of Trump’s nominees.

DeVos, a GOP mega-donor long active on education issues, has been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers unions and other liberal groups opposed to her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers that use public funds.

She has also come under fire from Democrats over reports that several lines and phrases in her committee-submitted questionnaire appeared to be lifted without attribution from other sources.

And DeVos endured a rocky confirmation hearing in which she at one point appeared to advocate for guns in school because of the possibility of a grizzly bear attack, at least in Wyoming.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D-Mass.) joined the Democratic floor protest, arguing “it is difficult to imagine a worse choice” to head up the department.

“The Republicans have made it clear no matter her experience, no matter her radical views ... they will ram this nomination down the throats of the American people sideways,” Warren, a possible presidential candidate in 2020, said during a nearly hourlong speech.

Warren said on Monday that DeVos’s performance during her confirmation hearing — which was panned by pundits in both parties — was “shocking.”

“I assume that the rush to complete this nomination has something to do with the fact that Republicans’ phones have been ringing off the hook,” she added.

Liberals have sought to jam Republican phone lines with protests over DeVos’s nomination. Senators in both parties say they have received thousands, if not tens of thousands, of calls, emails and letters urging them to oppose the nomination.

Progressive groups, including the American Federation of Teachers and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, paired up with teachers and students to rally against DeVos’s nomination outside of the Capitol on Monday evening.

Republicans on Monday said they were confident DeVos would win a victory on Tuesday.

“I’m confident we’ll get Ms. DeVos confirmed soon,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “Then, thanks to former Democratic leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE ... every single one of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees will be confirmed. We can take that to the bank.”

In a 2013 decision, Democrats, led by the Nevada senator, decided to get rid of the higher 60-vote procedural threshold for lower-court nominees and Cabinet picks.

The Democrats’ decision made it easier to confirm some of Obama’s nominees in 2013 and 2014, but under the old rules, DeVos’s confirmation almost certainly would have been blocked.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for slow-walking Trump’s nominees. Trump has gotten seven of his picks confirmed — the same number President Obama got confirmed on the first day of his administration in 2009.

“Enough is enough,” McConnell said on Monday. “It’s far past time to put the election behind us and put this President’s Cabinet into place — just as previous Senates have done for previous newly elected Presidents of both parties.”

Republicans on Monday noted that the pace of Trump’s nominees is the slowest since George Washington, citing data from the Senate Historical Office.

The growing GOP frustration over the treatment of Trump’s nominees comes after Republicans changed the rules on some committees to leapfrog Democratic boycotts and approve Trump’s nominees without a Democrat present.

Cornyn — who has defended the GOP maneuvers — accused Democrats of playing “petty politics.”

“This type of behavior is pretty juvenile if you ask me, and it can’t actually accomplish anything,” he said. “They don’t have any particular goal in mind because at the end of the day, the president will get the Cabinet that he has nominated and deserves.”