In voting against DeVos, Collins and Murkowski are remaining true to their long-standing positions on vouchers. In July 2015, both voted against student vouchers, three times.... Monkey CageIt wasn't totally surprising that the 2 Republican defectors on DeVos were women, but they are also from rural states. A third woman, Caputo from W. Virginia was a possibility but look at one crucial reason she went for DeVos:
Capito may feel less political pressure to vote in line with the teacher’s union because West Virginia adopted a right-to-work law in 2016. Alaska and Maine do not have right-to-work laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a right-to-work law prohibits labor unions from mandating union membership for workers, such as K-12 teachers. Once a state adopts a right-to-work law, that state’s teacher’s unions become less powerful, as they have fewer members, a smaller budget and can’t contribute as much to political campaigns.The WAPO Monkey Cage analysis is often right on.
Author The DeVos confirmation vote suggests Trump will have a tough time passing a school voucher law
Female Republican politicians may break with their parties on “family” issuesThe fact that they are from rural states is crucial. "...there are few alternative schools for rural students to choose from. Therefore, allowing students to use federal funding to attend nearby public or private schools will not apply to or benefit rural communities."
As expected, no Democratic senator voted for any of these pro-voucher amendments. But 14 Republicans opposed at least one of the three amendments...
Five of the six female Republican senators made the list, which is consistent with what Michele Swers revealed in her research on Republican female senators: Female Republican senators are more likely than men to defect from their party on such “family” issues as education and health care (although not women’s health.)
Capito joined Collins and Murkowski in opposing all three amendments.
Senators from states with large groups of rural students tend to oppose vouchersBut Capito voted for DeVos and provides 2 other reasons in addition to the weakened teacher union in W. Virginia.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Maine ranks fourth, Alaska ranks sixth, and West Virginia ranks 10th in the states with the highest percentage of K-12 rural schools in the United States. That means that these three senators represent states with especially high percentages of rural K-12 schools. Arguably, that accounts for Capito, Collins and Murkowski’s anti-voucher votes.
However, despite last-minute constituent protests, Capito voted for DeVos.
These three political factors may be behind Capito’s vote
Why the difference between Collins and Murkowski, on the one hand, and Capito on the other? Consider these three factors: which candidate each state voted for, the senator’s national teacher’s union approval rating and the strength (or lack thereof) of the state teacher’s union.
The third reason is the weakened union issue posted above. I also think we might be seeing the woman/mother issue operating even among Republican women who sent kids to public schools and may have been the ones to take their kids to school every day.
1. In Alaska and Maine, fewer voters pulled the lever for the GOP presidential candidate in 2016 than in 2012. The opposite happened in West Virginia: GOP presidential vote share increased from 62.3 percent in 2012, to 68.7 percent in 2016. So Capito may be voting for Trump’s nominees because she believes her overwhelmingly pro-Trump voters want to give the president a free hand.
2. Collins and Murkowski are the only Republican senators who received an “A” grade from the NEA in the 2013-14 congressional session. As a House member, Capito received a “C.” In the 2015-16 session, Collins and Murkowski are joined by Alexander as the only Republican senators with an “A” grade. Capito received a “B.”
What do these numbers predict for the Trump’s legislation on student vouchers?
During the campaign, Trump proposed student vouchers in the education platform in his Contract with the American Voter. But passing any pro-voucher legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes — because that’s what it takes to prevent a filibuster and call for a floor vote on a bill.
Republicans have a 52-seat majority in the Senate. The roll call votes and the confirmation vote strongly indicate at least two Republican “nay” votes on any proposed pro-voucher legislation.
Simply put, Republicans may not have the numbers to pass voucher legislation in the next two years.
Mona Vakilifathi is a PhD candidate at the University of California at San Diego. Her interests are in state politics, lawmaking and charter schools.