Sen. Tim Scott: DeVos Brings Reform, Competition to American Education

Tim Scott Betsy DeVos hearing AP

The Republican senator who introduced new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee told reporters shortly after the Senate’s Tuesday vote to confirm DeVos that her taking over federal education programs is long overdue.

DeVos brings with her the spirit of reform necessary to bring competition and accountability to America’s public schools, said South Carolina’s Sen. Timothy E. Scott, who introduced DeVos to the committee for her confirmation hearing with retired Connecticut Independent senator Joseph I. Lieberman.

Scott, who joined the Senate in 2013, said DeVos‘s agenda lines up with his. “As far as I am concerned, she is four years too late.”

The noon confirmation vote was a 50-to-50 tie that had to be settled by Vice President Michael R. Pence, who presided over the voting as the President of the Senate.

A reporter asked Scott if he thought the Democrats won a moral victory because they forced the GOP to bring Pence to the Capitol to cast the deciding vote.

“Not unless you think the Falcons won a moral victory because they were leading for three-quarters,” the senator said. The Atlanta Falcons were leading the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl 28-3, before the Patriots came back to win the game in overtime, 34-28.

Leading up to the vote, Senate Democrats kept the body in session by speaking against DeVos throughout the night and into the morning. Shortly before the chamber was called to order for the confirmation confrontation, Scott got himself recognized and spoke in favor of President Donald J. Trump’s nominee.

“Education is the closest thing to magic in America,” he said. “I experienced that magic as a kid growing up in a single-parent household, mired in poverty, disillusioned about life; I nearly flunked out as a freshman.”

The senator told his colleagues from the Senate floor public education is the reason he went from a kid about to drop out of high school to become a senator. But, other children will not get that opportunity if their schools are like the ones in Detroit, where nine percent of black students meet the standard for English, 13 percent of white students meet or exceed the standard for English, and only 12.5 percent meet or exceed the standard for English.

“But far too many kids, too many millions of kids today, do not have a quality educational choice in their communities,” he said. “We need to make sure that every child in every zip code has a quality choice.”

The vice-president brought theater to the proceedings, but there was no drama. The GOP holds a 52-to-48 majority in the Senate and no Republican was willing to hand the Democrats a scalp as the third Republican to defect.

After it was over, Scott told reporters that all that mattered was getting to 51 votes, the simple majority required.

The vast majority of the opponents to DeVos were people who supported the Democratic Party and the Democratic candidates, so the fight over the DeVos nomination was not really about education or DeVos, as much as it was about Senate Democrats responding to their base, he said. “The Democrats are synchronized, coordinated and animated.”

The senator said the Democratic campaign against DeVos was very impressive.

“The use of misinformation leading to false conclusions has empowered their side,” he said.

“It has been an effective political tool–I think it’s been a little light on actual facts. But there is a lathering effect,” he said. “It will be our responsibility to get out the truth and the good information.”

Scott said now that DeVos is setting up shop he is confident that she will staff the department with quality people, who are equality reform-minded.

“I think she is going to do a very good job over there surrounding herself with the right folks that have expertise in their specific areas,” he said.

“We are going to be pleasantly surprised at how effective the Department of Education is under her leadership.”


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