President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, on Wednesday became in danger of being voted down in her upcoming Senate confirmation.
The forecast became gloomy after Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — a pair of moderates — announced their opposition during separate speeches on the Senate floor.
"This is not a decision I make lightly," Collins said. "I have a great deal of respect for Mrs. DeVos. I will not, can not vote to confirm her."
After Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his opposition to DeVos earlier Wednesday, it was expected that no Democrat would vote to confirm her.
A GOP megadonor from Michigan, DeVos is an advocate of charter schools and voucher programs — which members of both parties expressed concerns about.
DeVos had a rocky confirmation hearing. She said guns in schools could "protect from potential grizzlies" and dodged questions from lawmakers. She also faced increased scrutiny for her vast wealth — estimated to be in the billions — and the potential conflicts of interest that come with it.
Collins and Murkowski both voted in favor of DeVos to move her out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and onto the Senate floor. That vote was a party-line 12-11.
With Murkowski and Collins defecting for the confirmation vote, the expected tally is 50-50. That would require Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote. If one more Republican were to defect, DeVos' nomination would be squashed.
During Wednesday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said he was confident DeVos would be confirmed.
"I have 100 percent confidence she will be the next secretary of education," he said. "I think that the games being played with Betsy DeVos are sad."
More From Business Insider