Senate Democrats call Betsy DeVos "incompetent," an "amateur" during all-night talk-a-thon

CSPAN

Democrats pulled an all-nighter on the Senate floor Monday to try and block Betsy DeVos from becoming secretary of the Department of Education, assailing her credentials — or lack thereof — in an effort to convince their GOP colleagues to vote against her nomination.

One by one, Senate Democrats took to the floor throughout the night to make their case against DeVos, calling her an "amateur" who is "fundamentally incompetent."

The all-night talk-a-thon was not a filibuster, because the Senate had already voted to proceed to an up-or-down vote on DeVos' nomination. Their stunt will end around noon, when a new Senate day begins.

But Senate Democrats hoped their impassioned speeches could convince at least one more Republican to vote against DeVos' nomination and officially sink her confirmation. 

As it stands, two Republican Senators have announced they will vote against DeVos' nomination, which, if the vote otherwise goes along party lines, would leave DeVos with a 50-50 tie and require Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote — which has never happened for a cabinet nominee in American history.

Because the talk-a-thon happened while most of America slept, here are some of the best moments from the all-night session.

Sen. Al Franken calls DeVos "incompetent," "amateur"

Franken, a two-term Senator from Minnesota, emerged as one of the strongest Democratic voices throughout DeVos' confirmation hearings.

His line of questioning about DeVos' thoughts on proficiency versus growth — one of the biggest topics among educators — led to a viral moment from the hearing.

Franken made clear during his speech, about nine hours into the talk-a-thon, what he thought of DeVos. 

"During her hearing, Ms. DeVos proved beyond a shadow of a doubt not only that her ideology is fundamentally incompatible with the mission of the Department of Education, but that she is fundamentally incompetent to be its leader," Franken said Monday night. 

"This is not a job for amateurs," Franken added.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls DeVos "embarrassingly unprepared" for the job

Warren, who has never been afraid to speak her mind on the Senate floor, said that, "It is difficult to imagine a worse choice to head the Department of Education" than DeVos.

"Betsy DeVos doesn't believe in public schools. Her only knowledge of student loans seems to come to her own financial investments connected to debt collectors who hound people with student loans," Warren said.

She added that DeVos' confirmation hearing "demonstrated to the entire world she is embarrassingly unprepared."

Sen. Kamala Harris invokes "potential grizzlies"

Harris, the freshman Democrat from California, used her floor speech to remind Americans of perhaps the most viral moment from DeVos' confirmation hearing, when she said guns may be needed in schools to protect against grizzly bears.

"She went on to say, 'Well, but we need guns in schools, yes, because grizzly bears may pose a significant threat to the safety of our children and perhaps their education,'" Harris said. "I say Ms. DeVos poses a far greater threat to public education."

Sen. Chuck Schumer attacks DeVos as unqualified

Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, has led the attack against Trump cabinet nominees.

But he said DeVos is the worst of the bunch.

"She is the least qualified nominee in a historically unqualified cabinet," Schumer said.