In a gut-punch speech on the Senate floor Monday, Warren tore into billionaire nominee Betsy DeVos with a list of criticism, including DeVos’ failure to resolve her possible conflicts of interest, and the Republicans for juicing the vote with a senator whom Warren says should have recused himself.
“At every step along the way, Republicans have made it clear, no matter her inexperience, no matter her radical views, no matter her potential conflicts of interest, no matter her secrecy, no matter her blowing off basic anti-corruption practices, they will ram this nomination down the throats of the American people, sideways,” Warren said.
DeVos has become one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks. Her confirmation hearings were held before she had completed her ethics agreement. After she completed it, Democrats requested a subsequent hearing to ask further questions, which Republicans denied. Now headed for her full Senate confirmation vote, which is set to take place around noon on Tuesday, DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, maintain investments in firms that could pose conflicts of interest if DeVos—a major donor to Republican politicians and causes and a fierce advocate for charter schools—becomes secretary of education.
Two Republican senators, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, broke ranks last week in announcing that they would vote against DeVos’ confirmation. Without Collins and Murkowski and all 46 Democrats and two independent senators, the vote is set to split 50-50. In such a scenario, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate.
With a single vote separating DeVos from confirmation, Warren condemned Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for not recusing himself from the vote given his “massive conflict of interest” as Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Republicans delayed Sessions’ Senate confirmation a week, allowing him to cast a vote for DeVos. Warren accused her GOP colleagues of having “rigged the vote.”
“Why is Sen. Sessions even voting on this nomination?” Warren asked. “It is a massive conflict of interest. As the AG, Sessions will be responsible for enforcing the law against DeVos if her cesspool of unresolved financial conflicts results in illegal behavior. But apparently, the Republicans just don’t care.”