Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies
© Greg Nash
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) blasted Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos on Monday for citing grizzly bear attacks as part of her reasoning for allowing states to determine their own gun policies in schools. 
 
"She went on to say, 'Well, but we need guns in schools, yes, because grizzly bears may pose a significant threat to the safety of our children and perhaps their education,'" Harris said in her first speech from the Senate floor.
 
"I say Ms. DeVos poses a far greater threat to public education." 
 
The newly elected California senator, who is already getting potential 2020 speculation, knocked DeVos's position on a myriad of positions, including her lack of knowledge on testing, a federal disability law and her position on gun-free school zones. 
 
"It is clear from her testimony, Betsy DeVos has not done her homework and she hasn't done her homework in terms of preparing for the job," Harris added. "She did not prepare her homework and do homework in terms of preparing for her hearing." 
 
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Democrats are holding a rare all-nighter to protest DeVos's nomination. As of 9 p.m., roughly 20 senators had spoken from the Senate floor. Lawmakers also joined a protest with progressive groups outside of the Capitol on Monday evening. 
 
Democratic Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fight MORE (Va.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySunday shows - 2020 spotlight shifts to South Carolina Murphy: No concerns with Sanders on gun policy Connecticut senator: 'Trump policy on Iran has been a total disaster' MORE (Conn.), as well as Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response Democrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule MORE (D-Wash.), also pointed on Monday to DeVos's comments on guns in schools during her confirmation hearing. 
   
 
Warner added from the Senate floor that while DeVos's comments had "become the subject of late-night comedy," the issue of guns in school zones is a "very serious matter." 
 
"Ms. DeVos was not able to clearly express her understanding or her commitment to enforcing the gun-free school zone act," he added.
 
Pushed by Murphy — whose district includes the site of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting — during the hearing, DeVos said she believed it was "best left to locals and states to decide" if they will be a gun-free zone. She added that schools, at least in Wyoming, might need a gun to "protect from potential grizzlies." 

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.

No Democrats are expected to support DeVos, with the conference uniting in opposition to her nomination. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE — a conservative West Virginia Democrat who is supporting other Trump nominees — explained his opposition on Monday evening, noting that the country needs someone who has "real classroom experience" and students "need better" than someone without public school experience. 

Democrats are using the all-night session to try to pressure a third Republican into voting against DeVos, a move that would sink her nomination. Republicans have a 52-seat hold on the Senate and need a simple majority to approve DeVos. It's expected that Vice President Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday, the first instance of a vice president breaking a tie in the Senate for a Cabinet nomination. 

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Democratic senators press Amazon over injury rates MORE (D-Wis.) targeted Republicans during her speech, urging them to help "do the right thing." 

"If just one more of my Republican colleagues were to announce their opposition, were to vote no, we could do the right thing and tell President Trump that he really needs to find a new candidate," she said.