More

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
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.