The U.S. Senate has confirmed John B. King Jr. as the nation’s 10th secretary of education.
Lawmakers on Monday voted 49 to 40 to approve King’s nomination. The Senate education committee signed off last week.
King has been serving as acting education secretary since Arne Duncan stepped down at the end of December. After initially indicating that it was satisfied with keeping King on in an acting capacity, the White House reversed course last month and submitted his nomination to the Senate.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Republican who leads the Senate education committee, had urged the White House to select a permanent replacement for Duncan and supported King’s nomination.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat, supported King’s nomination in committee last week but had threatened to withhold her support on the final vote over what she said was the Education Department’s inadequate response to her questions regarding student loan servicing and debt relief for students at for-profit colleges. Warren voted in favor of King’s nomination on Monday.
Senators voting against King’s nomination mostly cited his policies on K-12 education. As New York’s education commissioner, King sparred with teachers’ unions and parents over standardized testing and implementation of Common Core standards, among other issues.