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Arizona congressman says society will regret Betsy DeVos as US education head

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)

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman said society will come to regret the Senate’s Tuesday decision to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education.

DeVos’ confirmation was historic. It was the first time in Senate history that a vice president was required to break a Cabinet position vote deadlock.

“The impact will scar our society as a whole, stunting our ability to accomplish great feats and solidifying the United States as a two tier society: those born into a family that can afford a high-quality education, and everyone else,” U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a release.

“This is not a vision for American greatness. This is a moment our society will come to regret.”

DeVos, a longtime Republican donor, was one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial Cabinet picks. She was grilled heavily during her confirmation hearings and several clips — including her argument about guns being used in schools to protect against bears — went viral.

“Whether Republicans cast this party-line vote to drive a final nail into the coffin of public education, or whether they did it because DeVos is a billionaire heiress who has been contributing to their campaigns for years, the fact remains that they were never going to be deterred,” he said.

Grijalva also argued that DeVos, who has long been an advocate for school choice, has no experience in running public schools.

“Very few Cabinet nominees in history have proven themselves to be this incompetent in the field they seek to lead,” Grijalva said “And, of those examples, DeVos stands alone in being confirmed despite her flaws.”

In a tweet before the vote, Trump wrote “Betsy DeVos is a reformer, and she is going to be a great Education Sec. for our kids!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said DeVos will seek to empower states, not federal bureaucrats, to make important education decisions.

“I know that she is committed to improving our education system so that every child — every child — has a brighter future,” McConnell said ahead of the vote.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he was happy to vote for DeVos.

“I look forward to working with her to roll back the federal government’s reach into education and allow states and localities to determine what’s best for their students,” he said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.