Nightly Brief

Top CNS stories for today including Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote that confirmed Betsy DeVos as the nation’s new education secretary; environmentalists fear President Donald Trump’s freeze on regulations will imperil the bumblebee; New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoes emergency funds requested by the state court system; the Texas Board of Education gives its preliminary approval to a biology curriculum that challenges the theory of evolution, and more.

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1.) Pence Breaks Tie to Confirm DeVos as Education Secretary

The Senate approved Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday, requiring a rare vote from the vice president to push the controversial nominee over the top. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, came out against DeVos last week, but Democrats were unable to flip one more of their GOP colleagues to sink the nomination.

2.) Enviromentalists Say Trump Freeze Imperils Bumblebee

Protections for the critically endangered rusty patched bumblebee are on hold thanks to an executive order freezing regulations finalized during the last months of President Barack Obama’s term. The delay could spell disaster for this native pollinator, according to conservationists at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

3.) NM Governor Rejects Fiscal Lifeline for Courts

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez used her line-item veto authority this past week to deny $800,000 in emergency funds requested by the state court system, and the courts now say they’ll have to halt jury trials by March 1 because they can no longer pay jurors.

4.)  Melania Trump Scores Defamation Settlement

The family affair that is President Donald Trump’s war on the press kicked into high gear Tuesday as an attorney for the first lady announced a “substantial settlement” with the blogger who already apologized for calling it “widely known that Melania was not a working model but rather a high-end escort.”

5.) Texas School Board Refuses to Evolve

Against the recommendations of scientists, teachers and school district officials, the Texas State Board of Education preliminarily approved biology curriculum that challenges the theory of evolution.

6.) Blue-Collar Dems: a Case Study of Party Defection

Unable to fashion a golden ticket to the White House from Hillary Clinton’s 3-million-vote lead over Donald Trump, Democrats begrudgingly began the process of introspection. Courthouse News spoke with four experts to figure out what became of the blue-collar Democrat.

7.)  New Law Saves Bay Area Cities’ Suit Against Monsanto

A new California law has allowed three cities to move forward with their lawsuit against Monsanto over chemicals the cities say have polluted the San Francisco Bay.

8.) Researchers Develop1-Cent ‘Lab on a Chip’

Stanford University researchers say they have developed a new, reusable medical diagnostics tool can produce a “lab on a chip” for just a penny that could be a boon for doctors treating patients in developing nations.