Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence made history by becoming the first vice president to cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm a cabinet member's nomination.
Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, cast the 51st vote for Betsy DeVos of Michigan to become secretary of education.
Pence’s vote marked the first time in American history a vice president has broken a tie on a Cabinet nominee’s Senate confirmation – and the first tie-breaking vote by a VP since 2008. Pence was compelled to cast the vote after two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – joined all 48 Senate Democrats in opposing DeVos.
“The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the nomination is confirmed,” Pence said, stepping into his role as president of the Senate in a brief appearance on Capitol Hill.
With his support, DeVos was confirmed on a 51-50 vote.
The confirmation of the wealthy GOP donor will mark a sharp change in philosophy at the helm of federal education policy, given DeVos’ history boosting alternatives to public education.
Several top Democrats held the Senate floor all night to delay DeVos' confirmation vote.
Senator Patty Murray of Washington started the marathon of speeches Monday, and was later joined by Robert Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Charles Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts throughout the night.
Texas Republican John Cornyn of Texas slammed the display of objections, telling NBC News that Democrats' actions were "juvenile".