- The Washington Times - Friday, February 3, 2017

President Trump’s out-of-the-box pick to lead the Education Department survived another hurdle, overcoming an attempted Democratic filibuster in a rare pre-dawn vote Friday.

A final vote is slated for Monday.

Democrats have made Betsy DeVos, the pick, one of their chief targets as they try to score a scalp from among Mr. Trump’s Cabinet nominees, saying the wealthy philanthropist doesn’t have the experience or dedication to public schools to run the federal department.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called her “one of the worst nominees that has ever been brought before this body for a Cabinet position.”

Mr. Schumer urged senators to think about things over the weekend ahead of the final confirmation vote.

Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have already announced they would not vote to confirm her. Both did, however, vote with the GOP against the filibuster, which was broken on a 52-48 party-line vote.

Republicans hold an effective 52-48 majority in the Senate, so if both Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski vote against the nominee next week, Vice President Mike Pence will have to break a 50-50 tie.

In another vote Friday morning the Senate gave final approval to a repeal of an Obama administration rule that would have required U.S. mining and drilling companies to reveal all payments they make to foreign governments.

The rule was spawned by the controversial Dodd-Frank law that was passed in the wake of the Wall Street collapse.

Backers said the rule would give the public a look at under-the-table payments energy companies have to make in the court of doing business overseas, while opponents said it would make it tougher to strike deals.

That vote also fell along party lines with the GOP prevailing 52-47.

The repeal came under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress and the president to quickly undo lame-duck presidential rules. The House passed the repeal earlier in the week and it now goes to Mr. Trump’s desk.

Senators occasionally go late into the night in voting, but rarely come in early to vote.

Friday’s unusual session was scheduled by Republicans to counter the obstruction Democrats are mounting to Mr. Trump’s nominations and the GOP’s early agenda.

Democrats are making Republicans go through all the procedural hoops, attempting to drag out the nominations as long as possible — hoping that extra scrutiny will sink them.

Republicans could have forced a final Saturday vote on confirming Ms. DeVos, but instead have pushed the vote to Monday.

“This is it. Go back to sleep,” Mr. Schumer told his colleagues on the floor after they voted.

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