After the Feb. 7 Senate vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, Maine Sen. Susan Collins’s voting strategy is becoming clear. She and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski both voted against confirming DeVos, offering some mild criticism of the nominee’s inexperience and lack of knowledge about the department she will head, not to mention being unaware of basic facts about public education.

Before the senators voted in committee to let the DeVos nomination proceed to the full Senate, Sens. Collins and Murkowski were well aware of the problems with this unqualified nominee, who has had zero involvement with the public schools and who announced in a 2015 speech to educators that “government really sucks.” Had they voted against her in committee, where the vote was 12-11, DeVos would not have gone on to her unprecedented appointment by tie-breaker. But that strategy allowed the confirmation to happen, while giving the two senators the appearance of moderation.

That appears to be the plan for Republicans in Congress: Ignore the craziness going on in the White House while pushing through a Cabinet of unqualified nominees with ethics conflicts and an agenda to tear apart the department they have been appointed to lead.

Whatever happens with President Donald Trump, they will have gutted the public schools, destroyed Medicare, privatized Social Security and refused to deal with climate change.

If the public lets them.

Renee Cote, Auburn

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