U.s. House Rejects Effort To Add Vouchers To Special Education Bill

Vote Is A Setback For Pro-Voucher Crusade, Says Americans United

The U.S. House of Representatives today rejected two efforts to add private-school vouchers to a special-education bill. Americans United for Separation of Church and State hailed the votes, calling them strong evidence that Congress does not support giving tax aid to religious education.

"This should be a message to President Bush," said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn. "A substantial majority of the House does not think vouchers are wise or workable."

Lynn noted that the votes are especially significant since they are the first votes in Congress on this issue since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of Cleveland's school voucher program in June.

Observed Lynn, "These votes dramatically demonstrate how little public support there is for private school vouchers. This is a victory for public education and a setback for the pro-voucher crusade."

During floor debate over the "Improving Education Results for Children With Disabilities Act of 2003" (H.R. 1350), U.S. Reps. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) offered amendments to add voucher programs to the bill. Both measures were easily defeated, with DeMint's amendment losing by 240-182 and Musgrave's by 246-176.

Americans United joined nearly 70 national organizations that signed a joint letter today urging members of Congress to oppose adding vouchers to the bill. Signers included public education and civil liberties groups, as well as several organizations that advocate for special-education students.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.