WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives is refusing to let its school voucher plan for the District of Columbia die. As in years past, the House, in a mostly party-line 214-208 vote, tacked an amendment on to the spending bill for Washington that would provide tuition subsidies for students in the nation’s capital to use at private or religious schools. President Clinton vetoed the D.C. spending plan last year because of his objections to a similar voucher plan. Congress returned the bill without the voucher provisions and Clinton signed it. This April, Congress passed a stand-alone voucher initiative, prompting another presidential veto. The Orthodox Union, one of the leading proponents of school vouchers in the Jewish community, said that despite earlier vetoes, it hoped Clinton “will pause for a moment, and consider the opportunity that the passage of this legislation provides.” Nathan Diament, director of the O.U.’s Institute for Public Affairs, said Washington should be allowed to serve as a laboratory to “test the thesis of whether voucher plans can provide children with greater educational opportunities.” Other Jewish groups said they would urge Clinton to veto the initiative yet again. David Harris, director of the American Jewish Congress’ Washington office, said the notion of using Washington as a testing lab “totally disregards the will of its residents.” “Beyond the obvious religious liberty problems that vouchers cause, they also make bad policy,” he said. The measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), would provide up to $3,200 in tuition subsidies to 2,000 low-income students for use at the private or parochial school of their choice. The Clinton administration, in a statement, said the voucher program would “draw resources and attention away from the hard work of reforming public schools that serve the overwhelming majority of D.C. students.”
House makes another attempt to get school vouchers for D.C.