Mississippi holds key vote in DeVos education fight

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. AP

Sen. Thad Cochran is going to be a popular fellow today.

As the clock winds down on Democratic delays in the Senate, the Mississippi has not announced how he’ll vote on Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.

All but one of Cochran’s official telephone mailboxes are full, DeVos opponents on Twitter reported Tuesday morning. About 20 tweets an hour mentioned @SenThadCochran and most all of them were opposed to DeVos.

DeVos and her husband, Dick, heir to the Amway fortune, are principal investors in Neurocore, a brain treatment business that uses a therapy involving movies to treat depression, attention deficit disorder and other ills. The company’s claims are unproven and it has not published its results in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Among her critics’ biggest concerns, she has never worked in the public school system and is an advocate of school choice and school vouchers.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have said they will vote against DeVos.

If Cochran votes for DeVos, as things stand now, that would mean a 50-50 tie that could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. It would be the first time a vice president has cast such a vote, according to NPR.

It appears Sen. Roger Wicker is prepared to vote for her even though his office didn’t respond to an email request for a definitive yes or no.

“Betsy DeVos is a capable leader, dedicated to improving education throughout our nation. I am confident she will work to place decision-making back where it belongs — in the hands of parents, local leaders and states,” he told the Clarion-Ledger in mid-January.

Senate Republicans say they expect to vote at 11 p.m. CST. You can watch the proceedings on the Senate floor here.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton