Budget Deal: For D.C. It’s “Yes” To Vouchers and “No” To Abortion Funds

The budget deal brokered at the very last minute on Friday includes a measure that reinstates a school-voucher program in the District of Columbia, while banning the city from using its own funds to provide abortions for low-income women.

D.C Leaders Are Angry

From WAMU 88.5 FM:

For all of the stinging barbs D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton fired off in her statement following the budget deal, she saved some of her toughest words for Senate Democrats and the White House, saying they had thrown D.C. under the bus.
Other city leaders — all of them Democrats — followed suit, saying D.C. had once again been used by both parties as a bargaining chip.


“We clearly don’t have any friends on Capitol Hill, says Chuck Thies, a local political consultant. “The riders were sponsored by Republicans. They were placed in the budget by Republicans. But Democrats capitulated so there is no one on Capitol Hill who is our friend.”

Vouchers Reinstated

The voucher provision in the budget deal would give the district federal financing for school vouchers, a pet program of Speaker John A. Boehner, but officials say the program is unnecessary as 40 percent of students already go to public charter schools.

Even aside from accusations of inappropriate meddling accusations in D.C. affairs, and the fact that 40% of public school students in D.C. now attend charter schools, there is virtually no evidence that vouchers have improved the learning that is going on in Washington’s schools.

Only Program To Give Federal Tax Dollars To Private Schools

This is the only program that uses federal tax dollars to subsidize private-school tuition. It was established in 2004, to give 1,700 students in Washington a voucher of up to $7,500 to attend private and religious schools in the city as alternatives to the frequently underperforming neighborhood schools.

The program was controversial from the start — it was the first federal funding for vouchers in three decades. But in 2009, under intense pressure from the teachers unions, Congress and the Administration began to dismantle the program and no new students are participating today.

Inappropriate Use Of Federal Funds

The re-establishment of this program is an inappropriate use of federal funds, providing funds to approximately 3% of the kids in D.C., money that would be better spent on improving the system for all children.

No Abortions For Low-Income Women

In a blatantly partisan move, House Speaker John Boehner secured funding for his pet project, D.C. vouchers, while killing all funding for abortions in the city.

The abortion provision bars D.C. from using local taxpayer funds to cover abortions for low-income women on Medicaid. A similar ban was lifted in 2009.

From The New York Times:

The use of federal money for abortions has been banned since 1976. The ban in Washington, sometimes referred to as the Dornan Amendment, goes even further, prohibiting the district from using its own money to pay for abortions for poor women.

About 150,000 of the city’s poorest residents are on Medicaid, and just over half are women. They are overwhelmingly black and Latina. In the years that local money was banned, those women had to pay for abortions themselves, city officials said.

This is a lose-lose-lose situation: for the children of D.C, the women of D.C. and the entire population, who once again have become pawns in a political game of chess. Shame on you, Mr. Boehner.

Related Story:

Education and Medical Research Largely Spared In Budget Deal


Photo credit: dbking via Creative Commons


Dolores C.
Dolores Campbell6 years ago

Oh, just let Boehner cry again, that seems to be the only thing he really has under control!

Adam P.
Adam P.6 years ago


Those who stand to gain the most from choice - in terms of improving upon the schools in their district and in terms of the dignity one gains from freedom - are kept from making any choices they can afford.

"Learned helplessness is a phenomenon in which individuals gradually, usually as a result of repeated failure or control by others, become less willing to attempt tasks." (D.D. Smith, 2001)

"Learned helplessness" offered a model to explain human depression, in which apathy and submission prevail, causing the individual to rely fully on others for help. This can result when life circumstances cause the individual to experience life choices as irrelevant.

Therefore, the issue of school choice is a critical one for combating the cycle of poverty in which many people feel trapped. The obvious first reason is that kids going to better schools have more opportunities to break out of that cycle of poverty as educated adults. The less obvious reason is the psychological empowerment that choice allows.

A variety of studies have shown that loss of control can lead to depression, feelings of extreme stress, and eventual loss of health (Myers, 2002). On the other hand, in situations where subjects felt that they had even a small amount of control, they reported being happier and healthier (Myers, 2002).

"Education is a constant process for the liberation of human beings."

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Control follows the purse. Whoever runs the schools gets to choose the propaganda to which the students are subjected. Students in government schools get government propaganda. Students in Roman Catholic schools get Roman Catholic propaganda. Students in 7th Day Adventist Schools get 7th Day Adventist propaganda. Students in Jewish Schools get Jewish propaganda. With vouchers, parents get to choose which brand of propaganda their children will be subjected to.

Miranda M.
Miranda M6 years ago

How about we sterilize those freaky, evil conservative NAZIS--keep them from breeding so that eventually their self-centered, greedy, "to heck with the rest of all you--I got mine!" way of thinking will die off as well!

Carmen n.
Carmen n6 years ago

@MarshaAndrews: "Sylvia B. Your comments are ludicrous. An automatic tubal ligation - on what planet are you from."

Sylvia's comments are not without merit. Open your mind.

People requesting assistance for their families shouldn't be the only ones "elegible" for automatic sterilization: so should rapists and child molesters.

To satisfy the sensibilities of those who are appalled at forced sterilization in certain situations, all forced sterilizations could be made reversible, though I cannot see the plus side to preserving a rapist's fertility.

...not that any of this fails to be moot... as long as 'the Patriarchy' is in charge, none of this will be resolved for the benefit of the commons... it's just not their way.

Carmen n.
Carmen n6 years ago

@CaroleDunn: "Your kids were used as political pawns in utero, but they are of no use to anyone once they are born." Not So!

They are of great use to the PTB's once they are born, just not right away! They want disposable servants, and soldiers, and dollies, and ass-kissers, and the more they are scarred by deprivation and the (in)famous unlevel playing field while growing up, the better for the PTB's, who count on smoldering resentments and unfulfilled dreams to fuel their lackeys' ambitions, better servants to the ones that give, and also take away.

God is a sadist.

Bernadette P.
Berny p6 years ago

we sometime pay a heavy price for democracy....and it makes one wonder if it is worth it!!!!!

Carmen n.
Carmen n6 years ago

@RobertD: "Roughly 50% of our population is vehemently against abortion. Forcing them to pay for abortions (and please, let's not sugar coat it and call it birth control) is like forcing you to send money to Boehner's campaign fund."

And an even bigger percentage of the population is against WAR, and care deeply that our tax dollars are used to pay for the PTB's wars.

Do you feel as strongly about your tax dollars being used to wage war as you do about others' tax dollars being used to pay for abortions?

Oh, and BTW, and FYI, no federal funds are used to pay for abortions, anywhere, excepting for rape and incest or life threatening situation for the mother.

Oh, another BTW: your initial assessment of 50% VEHEMENT opposition to abortion is incorrect, an exaggeration, if you please.

Morris G.
Morris G.6 years ago

"Morris, the voucher system has been tried in DC for at least 5 years and no improvement has been shown whatsoever."
Really Patricia? Here are some exerpts from the Dept of Education report on the program:
After 3 years, there was a statistically significant positive impact on reading test scores, but not math test scores. Overall, those offered a scholarship were performing
at statistically higher levels in reading equivalent to 3.1 months of additional learning.
The OSP had a positive impact overall on parents’ reports of school satisfaction and safety Parents were more satisfied with their child’s school (as measured by the percentage giving the school a grade of A or B) and viewed their child’s school as safer and more orderly if the child was offered a scholarship.

There were also positive impacts for students who applied to the Program with relatively higher levels of academic performance, female students, students entering grades K-8 at the time of application, and students from the first cohort of applicants. These impacts translate into 1/3 to 2 years of additional learning growth."

In addition the teacher student ratio for those students was 10 to 1. Finally the average tuition at the private voucher schools was $6,620 while DC spends over $11,000 per student in the public system.
Perhaps you were educated in the DC public school system if you believe this shows no improvement whatsoever????

Delana Darrow
Delana Darrow6 years ago

Everyone knows you can't use fedural funds for abortion this was just a smoke screen used by rebulicans and teaparty to fauther radical socail adgenda.