Roll Call: House Approves School Vouchers for D.C.

On September 5, by a vote of 205 to 203, the House passed an amendment to the District of Columbia appropriations bill to authorize a school voucher program in the District of Columbia. The vote was confirmed September 9, when the House again approved the amendment 209 to 208. (For more on D.C. vouchers, see “May Norton’s Nightmare Come True”)

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis (R.-Va.), is part of the bill allocating funds for the Nation’s Capital, which the federal government controls directly under the U.S. Constitution.

Under this amendment, students could receive up to $7,500 toward elementary or high school tuition at a private school in the District of Columbia. The program would be open only to students who reside n the Nation’s Capital and whose family income is below 185% of the federal poverty level (below approximately $17,000).

Teachers’ unions, vital political allies of the Democratic Party, are fearful of the accountability and higher standards that educational competition would bring and have lobbied hard and successfully in Congress to defeat any voucher provision.

Republicans argued on the House floor that educational vouchers particularly help poor children to get a better education. “This creates an historic opportunity for families and students of the District of Columbia,” said Davis. “This amendment can make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of low-income children from non-performing schools in the District. It represents a shot at a better education and, of course in turn, a better life.”

Democrats and a few liberal Republicans took the opposite side, arguing that it is better to keep pouring money down the rat hole of public education rather than helping poor children find a decent education elsewhere.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.-D.C.) was the only member to speak against the amendment, a sign that many Democrats fear their public remarks against vouchers could come back to harm them in future elections. She made a truly unusual argument.

First, she called misleading the claim that District of Columbia schools spend the most per pupil with the worst results. The claim, she said, does not take into account the high number of special needs children in D.C. burdening the system.

“Remember, Montgomery [Md.] and Fairfax [Va.] counties spend a whole lot of money on children that are not at all disadvantaged, and huge numbers of mine are severely disadvantaged,” she said, referring to several nearby areas.

But then Norton turned around and claimed that the District of Columbia public schools cannot afford to let those same disadvantaged children leave the public school system and enter private schools. She argued the system would then lose the federal funds that follow the special needs children. “We will lose $25 million in combined federal and local per-pupil funding because schools are funded on a per-pupil basis, and that is in addition to the $40 million that the schools are already being cut this year,” she said, without recognizing the obvious contradiction.

The measure narrowly passed and then passed again Tuesday night, September 9, 209 to 208 . It now proceeds to the Senate, where it will have the unlikely support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.).

President Bush has promised to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

A “yes” vote was a vote to establish a school voucher program in the District of Columbia. A “no” vote was a vote against the amendment.

FOR THE AMENDMENT: 205 AGAINST THE AMENDMENT: 203
REPUBLICANS FOR: 201
Aderholt
Akin
Bachus
Baker
Barrett (SC)
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Bass
Beauprez
Bereuter
Bilirakis
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blunt
Boehner
Bonilla
Bonner
Bono
Boozman
Bradley (NH)
Brady (TX)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, V.
Burgess
Burns
Burton (IN)
Buyer
Calvert
Camp
Cannon
Cantor
Capito
Carter
Castle
Chabot
Chocola
Coble
Cole
Collins
Cox
Crane
Crenshaw
Cubin
Culberson
Cunningham
Davis, Jo Ann
Davis, Tom
Deal (GA)
DeLay
DeMint
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Doolittle
Dreier
Duncan
Dunn
Ehlers
Emerson
Everett
Feeney
Ferguson
Flake
Forbes
Fossella
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gerlach
Gibbons
Gilchrest
Gillmor
Gingrey
Goode
Goodlatte
Goss
Granger
Green (WI)
Greenwood
Gutknecht
Harris
Hart
Hastings (WA)
Hayes
Hayworth
Hefley
Hensarling
Herger
Hobson
Hoekstra
Hostettler
Houghton
Hulshof
Hunter
Hyde
Isakson
Issa
Istook
Jenkins
Johnson, Sam
Johnson (CT)
Jones (NC)
Keller
Kelly
Kennedy (MN)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kirk
Kline
Knollenberg
Kolbe
Latham
LaTourette
Lewis (CA)
Lewis (KY)
Linder
Lucas (OK)
Manzullo
McCotter
McCrery
McInnis
McKeon
Mica
Miller, Gary
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Moran (KS)
Murphy
Musgrave
Nethercutt
Neugebauer
Northup
Norwood
Nunes
Nussle
Osborne
Ose
Otter
Oxley
Pearce
Pence
Peterson (PA)
Petri
Pitts
Pombo
Porter
Portman
Pryce (OH)
Putnam
Quinn
Radanovich
Regula
Rehberg
Renzi
Reynolds
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Ros-Lehtinen
Royce
Ryan (WI)
Ryun (KS)
Schrock
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Shadegg
Shaw
Shays
Sherwood
Shimkus
Shuster
Smith (MI)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Souder
Stearns
Sweeney
Tancredo
Tauzin
Taylor (NC)
Terry
Thomas
Thornberry
Tiahrt
Tiberi
Toomey
Turner (OH)
Upton
Vitter
Walden (OR)
Walsh
Wamp
Weldon (FL)
Weldon (PA)
Weller
Wicker
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (SC)
Wolf
Young (FL)

DEMOCRATS FOR: 4
Ford
Hall
Lipinski
Taylor (MS)

REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 14
Biggert
Boehlert
English
Fletcher
Graves
Johnson (IL)
LoBiondo
McHugh
Ney
Paul
Platts
Ramstad
Saxton
Simpson

DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 188
Abercrombie
Alexander
Allen
Andrews
Baca
Baird
Baldwin
Ballance
Becerra
Bell
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Blumenauer
Boswell
Boucher
Boyd
Brady (PA)
Brown, Corrine
Brown (OH)
Capps
Capuano
Cardin
Cardoza
Carson (IN)
Carson (OK)
Case
Clay
Clyburn
Conyers
Cooper
Costello
Cramer
Crowley
Cummings
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (FL)
Davis (IL)
Davis (TN)
DeFazio
Delahunt
DeLauro
Deutsch
Dicks
Dingell
Doggett
Dooley (CA)
Doyle
Edwards
Emanuel
Engel
Eshoo
Etheridge
Evans
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Frost
Gephardt
Gonzalez
Gordon
Green (TX)
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Harman
Hastings (FL)
Hill
Hinchey
Hinojosa
Hoeffel
Holden
Holt
Honda
Hooley (OR)
Hoyer
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Jefferson
Johnson, E. B.
Jones (OH)
Kanjorski
Kaptur
Kennedy (RI)
Kildee
Kilpatrick
Kind
Kleczka
Lampson
Langevin
Lantos
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Lowey
Lucas (KY)
Lynch
Majette
Maloney
Markey
Marshall
Matheson
Matsui
McCarthy (MO)
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McIntyre
McNulty
Meehan
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Menendez
Michaud
Millender-McDonald
Miller, George
Miller (NC)
Moore
Moran (VA)
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Owens
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor
Payne
Pelosi
Peterson (MN)
Pomeroy
Price (NC)
Rahall
Reyes
Ross
Rothman
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Sabo
Sanchez, Linda
Sanchez, Loretta
Sandlin
Schakowsky
Schiff
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Sherman
Skelton
Slaughter
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Solis
Spratt
Stark
Stenholm
Strickland
Stupak
Tanner
Tauscher
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Towns
Turner (TX)
Udall (CO)
Udall (NM)
Van Hollen
Velazquez
Visclosky
Waters
Watson
Watt
Weiner
Wexler
Wu
Wynn

INDEPENDENTS AGAINST: 1
Sanders

NOT VOTING: 26

REPUBLICANS (13): DEMOCRATS (13): INDEPENDENTS (0)
Ballenger
Burr
Foley
Janklow
LaHood
Leach
Myrick
Pickering
Rogers (AL)
Simmons
Sullivan
Whitfield
Young (AK)
Ackerman
DeGette
Frank (MA)
John
Kucinich
Lofgren
Mollohan
Murtha
Rangel
Rodriguez
Roybal-Allard
Waxman
Woolsey


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