Alaska senators weigh in on Betsy DeVos confirmation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTUU) - Following a tie vote of 50-50 that split party lines, as well as a filibuster from Senate Democrats, Betsy DeVos was confirmed Tuesday as Education secretary.

The two Alaskan Senators were split in their vote on the decision, with Senator Lisa Murkowski voting "no" on DeVos, and Senator Dan Sullivan voting "yes."

Both Senators have released statements following the vote. Senator Lisa Murkowski's statement addresses that she did not vote yes, yet says she is hopeful about DeVos:

“Although I did not vote in favor of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, now that she has been confirmed by the Senate it is important that we work together as she takes the helm at the Department of Education. We share a common goal that all children receive the best education. I will work with Mrs. DeVos on commitments she made to me," Murkowski writes.

Murkowski had previously been undecided on the DeVos vote, and voted "yes" to progress her candidacy, moving then to a vote of the full senate where she was confirmed after Vice President Mike Pence offered the tie breaking vote to settle the 50-50 stalemate.

She said she owes it at least part of her decision to her constituents, saying she “heard from thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos as Secretary of Education, by phone, in person, by email and through petition.”

Those protesting DeVos' candidacy were comprised of teachers, parents, and community members. They gathered both outside of Murkowski's office, and the office of Senator Dan Sullivan.

Sullivan released a statement on Tuesday following the vote as well. However he, unlike Murkowski, voted yes. In the statement, Sullivan defends this decision, asserting that DeVos will uphold the Every Student Succeeds Act, which he said had "the strong support of Alaska’s teachers."

“Today I voted for Betsy DeVos to be the next Secretary of Education. During my meeting with her, I was satisfied that Ms. DeVos truly cares about the education of all of Alaska’s children – both in our rural and our urban areas – and, like me, fundamentally believes that education decisions are best left in the hands of state and local authorities, and that parental involvement is critical," Sullivan writes.

In his statement, Sullivan did not acknowledge those petitioning his office to deny DeVos' appointment.