Senate Rejects Amendment to Re-fund DC Voucher Program

March 17, 2010

On Tuesday, March 16th, the Senate rejected an amendment to an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Funding Bill that would have allocated new funding to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The final vote of 42-55 occurred largely along party lines, with a majority of Republicans supporting the measure and a majority of Democrats opposing it. The amendment (Sen. Amendment No. 3456) was proposed by Senator Lieberman (I-CT). The vote followed a flurry of calls from both proponents of the school voucher program, who say that it gives underprivileged children a chance to attend better schools, and opponents who argued that the program allows for government funding of religion through the use of the individual vouchers. Over 80% of children whose parents use the vouchers elect to send their children to sectarian religious schools.

Senator Lieberman has long been a proponent of the DC Voucher program, and has vowed to keep on fighting to win back funding for it. Given the vote that occurred last night however, it is unclear how he will be able to round up 18 more votes in favor.

The Center for Inquiry opposes reauthorization of the DC School Voucher program on the grounds that it violates the separation of church and state by allowing federal funds to be used to support sectarian religious schools. We have worked with other members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) to oppose this amendment and any other that would allocate federal funding to the program after it's expiration date.