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Senators vote to cut off debate, clearing major hurdle for Betsy DeVos

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2017 file photo, Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. DeVos bid to become education secretary could be in trouble. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced their opposition to DeVos in speeches on the Senate floor Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Betsy DeVos.

WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos has cleared a major hurdle in the Senate to become the next education secretary, despite vigorous opposition from Democrats.

Senators voted 52-48 to cut off debate before dawn Friday morning, setting the stage for a final confirmation vote next week.

DeVos is a billionaire Republican donor and school choice activist. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York calls her ‘‘one of the worst nominees.’’

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Schumer says, ‘‘Ms. Devos does not deserve to be secretary of education.’’

President Donald Trump’s nominee has spent more than two decades promoting charter schools across the country. Her nomination has come under fierce criticism from labor unions, who accuse her of seeking to dismantle public education. Two key Republican senators have announced their opposition to DeVos.