For the first time ever, the vice president was called to Capitol Hill to break the tie on a vote to confirm a member of the Cabinet.

Vice President Mike Pence presided over the Senate for the first time since being sworn in just over two weeks ago, and cast the tie-breaking vote, 51-50, to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next education secretary. The vice president has never done so before, according to the Senate Historian’s office.

That DeVos could not garner support from the GOP-led Senate underscored her weakness as a nominee, Democrats argued.

“She’d come into the department as a very weak secretary of education,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “I think to the extent she thought she was going to get major policy changes passed through Congress, that will be made much more difficult.”

But Republicans brushed off questions about whether it was problematic that DeVos barely passed the Senate.

(Next page: The struggle to block the nomination)

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