Commentary Magazine


No Up or Down Vote?

To its credit, the Washington Post‘s editorial board has been after Obama and the Democratic Congress over their unseemly effort to sink the D.C. school-voucher program, which allows thousands of poor kids to go to the same schools that the president and many members of Congress send their children to. They write that that the Democratic Senate leadership doesn’t want a vote taken — because that would reveal just how atrocious the effort is to let the popular and effective scholarship program die:

For months, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), leader of a bipartisan coalition seeking to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been trying to get floor time. He’s reminded Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that a commitment was made to allow a vote, and he tried to cooperate with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who said he was open to finding a way to let the program proceed. Both efforts came to naught, so Mr. Lieberman Tuesday tried to offer an amendment to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. That effort, too, was thwarted: “Not germane” is the explanation offered to us by spokesmen for Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin.

An up or down vote — why not? The president says he likes those when it comes to health care. But don’t hold your breath. As the editors note: ”What possible explanation could Democrats devise for killing something that has been so crucial in the lives of thousands of poor D.C. children? How would it look? No, better to do nothing and hope the issue goes away.”

Lieberman and others can attach the measure as an amendment to a variety of bills. He and the other senators who put the education of D.C. schoolchildren above the interests of Big Labor (in maintaining their near monopoly on education, even after decades of putrid results) should keep at it.