Commentary Magazine


Topic: Richard J. Durbin

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.

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.

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And Where Is the White House?

Give credit to the Washington Post‘s opinion editors: they extracted the story of the death of the D.C. school-voucher program from the inside pages of the Metro section. They write:

It is distressingly clear that congressional leaders never really meant it when they said there would be a fair hearing to determine the future of the District’s federally funded school voucher program. How else to explain language tucked away in the mammoth omnibus spending bill that would effectively kill the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program?

They note that “deep in the folds of the thousand-page 2010 spending bill, which wraps together six bills” is language that will keep funding for current students but shut the door behind them to new ones and add on “onerous requirements about testing and site visits.” And the Post names names, singling out Sen. Richard J. Durbin and Rep. Jose E. Serrano, who “have been, at best, disingenuous about their intentions, thus placing the program’s advocates in their current no-win situation.” But who’s missing from the list? Why the president, of course. He talked a good game about school reform but hasn’t lifted a finger to keep the school-voucher program in operation.

The Post‘s editors slam Congress: “If Congress, no doubt egged on by its allies in the teachers unions, is so intent on killing this program, it should be upfront in accepting the responsibility.” But the paper’s well-founded complaint is equally applicable to the White House, which has done virtually nothing on this or any other education issue that would challenge the educational establishment. It seems that there are some more kids in D.C. who will now suffer the consequences as a result.

Give credit to the Washington Post‘s opinion editors: they extracted the story of the death of the D.C. school-voucher program from the inside pages of the Metro section. They write:

It is distressingly clear that congressional leaders never really meant it when they said there would be a fair hearing to determine the future of the District’s federally funded school voucher program. How else to explain language tucked away in the mammoth omnibus spending bill that would effectively kill the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program?

They note that “deep in the folds of the thousand-page 2010 spending bill, which wraps together six bills” is language that will keep funding for current students but shut the door behind them to new ones and add on “onerous requirements about testing and site visits.” And the Post names names, singling out Sen. Richard J. Durbin and Rep. Jose E. Serrano, who “have been, at best, disingenuous about their intentions, thus placing the program’s advocates in their current no-win situation.” But who’s missing from the list? Why the president, of course. He talked a good game about school reform but hasn’t lifted a finger to keep the school-voucher program in operation.

The Post‘s editors slam Congress: “If Congress, no doubt egged on by its allies in the teachers unions, is so intent on killing this program, it should be upfront in accepting the responsibility.” But the paper’s well-founded complaint is equally applicable to the White House, which has done virtually nothing on this or any other education issue that would challenge the educational establishment. It seems that there are some more kids in D.C. who will now suffer the consequences as a result.

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