Vice President Mike Pence offered the 51st vote in favor of DeVos, making him the first U.S. Vice President ever to cast a tie-breaking vote for a Cabinet member. Even as other Cabinet nominees have faced opposition, DeVos became the subject of a particularly heated public campaign in recent weeks.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski announced last week that they would not vote for DeVos, bringing the vote to a 50-50 tie. In a late-night standoff on the Senate floor Monday, Democrats denounced DeVos and tried — unsuccessfully — to convince another Republican Senator to vote against her.
DeVos, a school choice advocate, was heavily criticized after her confirmation hearing last month, when she struggled to answer questions about key issues in education policy. Protesters across the country have campaigned against her confirmation, organizing rallies and flooding lawmakers with tens of thousands of phone calls.