David Brody

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Is the DC School Voucher Program in Danger?


Look over there in the corner! It's House Minority Leader John Boehner raising the red flag. On that flag is a big sign that says: DC SCHOOL VOUCHERS PHASED OUT

Boehner just issued a statement saying that Democrats are trying to jettison the DC Vouchers program. Boehner says the language is inside the mandatory pass 410 Billion omnibus spending bill. Read below from Boehner:

"The D.C. school choice program has provided hope for thousands of low-income children in the District of Columbia since it was established, and has been demonstrating results when it comes to parental satisfaction and increased parental involvement. Eliminating this program would represent an irresponsible and shameful act on the part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, and the children of the District of Columbia deserve better.

"The American people, whose hard-earned money is being spent without the transparency and accountability they were promised by the Democratic majority, also deserve better. Nearly three weeks ago, Republicans asked the Democratic leadership to put this bill online so the American people would have adequate time to review it. They declined to do so, and now we know why. What other unpleasant surprises have Democratic congressional leaders tucked into the text of this massive legislation on behalf of their special-interest political allies?"

UPDATE: Brendan Daly, one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's top aide's tells The Brody File the following:

"The Republicans' claims are misfounded. We fund this program in 2009 but the bills says it must be authorized before we fund it in the future."

Here’s the actual language. It is from page 54 of the Financial Services bill as posted on the appropriations website. It says:

Provided further, That use of any funds in this Act or any other Act for opportunity scholarships after school year 2009-2010 shall only be available upon enactment of reauthorization of that program by Congress and the adoption of legislation by the District of Columbia approving such reauthorization.

Bottom line: Republicans and conservatives may think the voucher program is in big trouble but the Speaker's office is downplaying it.

Whatever the outcome, here's the problem for the Democratic Party and the Obama administration. President Obama, as leader of his own Democratic Party, has hung his hat on transparency. Granted, he's not going to know about everything tucked inside a bill but making transparency such a huge issue (as well it should be) you open your administration and your own party to serious scrutiny by Republicans on a myriad of issues.

President Obama talked in the campaign about letting the American people go online to see what's in these bills. They may want to consider making that a much higher priority before they let Republicans own this issue come the 2010 and 2012 elections.

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Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, February 23, 2009 5:00 AM



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