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That was close.

US President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the federal Department of Education squeaked through a vote on final confirmation on Tuesday, with Vice-President Mike Pence delivering what is believed to be the first-ever tie-breaking vote on a cabinet nominee.

Betsy DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist whose bumpy performance during her confirmation hearing drew fierce criticism from opponents, was confirmed by a final vote of 51-50, with Mr Pence arriving to cast the deciding vote after senators deadlocked 50-50.

Two Republican senators had previously vowed to break ranks with their party and vote against Ms DeVos. With the confirmation, the path has now been cleared for a vote on Mr Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, consideration of whom was delayed by Republican lawmakers so he could vote for Ms DeVos before giving up his seat.

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