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Senate Democrats #HoldTheFloor to protest confirmation of DeVos

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senate Democrats have organized a last-ditch effort at protesting President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, though it is unlikely they will prevent her confirmation.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) made the announcement on his official Twitter account, saying the Democrats in the Senate will engage in an organized protest by holding the floor of the Senate for 24 hours. "For the next 24 hours, @SenateDems will to oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos," he said.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) made the same announcement on the Senate floor Monday, asking supporters to continue calling their senators and let their voices be heard. "Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours until the final vote to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us," she said. "And I strongly encourage people across the country to join us — to double down on your advocacy — and to keep making your voices heard for these last 24 hours."

DeVos has faced harsh criticism over her qualifications, with many saying she lacks the qualifications necessary to hold the position. Teachers unions have also come out in opposition to DeVos, citing her lack of experience and her previous work with charter schools.

In the last week, special interest groups opposing DeVos have been urging their supporters to flood Republican senators' phone lines to persuade them to vote "no" on her confirmation. GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) announced they will vote against her, which would put the vote being held on Tuesday at 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence would be brought in as a tie-breaker, which would be the first time in history that the vice president would act as a tie-breaker for a Cabinet nominee, according to the Senate historian.

In 2014, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opted to change the Senate rules to require only 51 vote to end debate for a confirmation. Before Reid's change, the rules previously required 60 votes to end a filibuster of both legislation and cabinet appointments; now, the filibuster only applies to legislation and judicial appointments.

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