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HAPPENING NOW: Senate Democrats host a 24-hour marathon to stop Betsy DeVos.

With confirmation fast approaching, Democrats need to pick up one more vote against DeVos.

HAPPENING NOW: Senate Democrats host a 24-hour marathon to stop Betsy DeVos.

At noon on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, the U.S. Senate will vote on President Donald Trump's secretary of Education nominee.

This is normal. What's happening in the 24 hours leading up to the vote, on the other hand, is not normal at all.

In an effort to win over one of their Republican colleagues, Senate Democrats are pulling an all-night filibuster as they take turns making the case against Betsy DeVos, Trump's choice to head the Department of Education. For 24 hours, Democrats plan to hold the floor in the run-up to a vote that may very well determine the future of America's public education system.


DeVos speaks during her confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, 2017. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Two Republicans have already indicated plans to vote against DeVos. It'll take at least one more vote to tip the scales.

Last week, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) came forward to announce that they would not vote to confirm DeVos. With the 46 Democrats, two Independents, and now two Republicans lining up against DeVos, it looks like there are 50 votes for confirmation and 50 votes against.

Should the vote end up being a tie, Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that he will cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos as the next Education secretary.

There are a number of reasons to oppose DeVos' nomination that should have people on both sides of the aisle feeling a bit nervous.

For one, DeVos has never attended or worked in a public school, her children have all gone to private schools, and she has no experience working in government or education. There's also the fact that she's a proponent of shifting tax dollars from public schools to charter programs in an effort to "advance God's kingdom" through the education system.

And finally, there's the simple matter of her nomination being "pay-to-play" politics at its absolute worst. DeVos and her family have donated more than $200 million to Republicans through the years. In 1997, she even wrote, "I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. ... We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment."

Additionally, DeVos had a pretty disastrous confirmation hearing in which she suggested that guns in schools might be a good idea because of bears, showed ignorance about a federal disability law, dodged questions about protecting LGBTQ students and victims of sexual assault, and made it abundantly clear why her confirmation appears to be the one cabinet nomination that may not meet the required 51-vote threshold.

So far, the filibuster is off to a strong start, as Democratic senators implore their colleagues to prioritize the welfare of America's students over party lines.

No matter how this vote goes, it's good to see the Senate living up to its potential as one of the world's great deliberative bodies.

If there's a case to be made against (or for) DeVos, it will most certainly be made between now and tomorrow's vote. The exchange of ideas and action that follows is democracy in action.

It's even better to know that elected officials take into account what constituents think. Sen. Murkowski indicated that her decision to vote "no" was influenced by "thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos as Secretary of Education, by phone, in person, by email and through petition."

Between now and when the Senate votes on DeVos, there's still time for constituents to take action — whether it's calling their senators to thank them for their vote against DeVos or trying to convince them to change their minds.

If you're interested in calling but aren't sure what to say? No worries. 5 Calls is a great resource for calling your elected officials on any topic.

Watch the 24-hour action from the Senate floor filibuster here:

LIVE: Senate Dems protest Betsy DeVos

WATCH LIVE: Democrats in the Senate will hold the floor all night to protest the nomination of Betsy DeVos to secretary of Education.

Posted by The Hill on Monday, February 6, 2017
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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