NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Senator Kennedy to Lead Filibuster Against Vouchers

September 25, 2003

Senators Ted Kennedy (D.- Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R.- Pa.) are readying other liberal school-choice opponents to filibuster a bill that would give some 2,000 low- and middle-income students in the District of Columbia $7,500 vouchers to attend the private or parochial school of their choice. Their thinking seems to be that it is better to lock children into the worst public schools than to give them a choice, says Pete du Pont (National Center for Policy Analysis).

If Sen. Kennedy doesn't filibuster the bill (or fails in his attempt), the Senate will soon vote on the $13 million appropriation. A similar bill passed the House two weeks ago by a single vote.

So how will it go on the floor of the senate?

  • Ted Kennedy will lead the filibuster against it and Arlen Specter may help him; it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.
  • A handful of Democrats are in favor of vouchers, including Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Zell Miller of Georgia; Louisiana's Sen. Mary Landrieu, who like Specter flip-flopped on the issue, may change her mind again.
  • Three more Democrat senators may help: John Breaux of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Tom Carper of Delaware.

If the three New England Republican liberals, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee and Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe stand tall -- a big if -- the pro-choice forces might get their needed 60 and D.C. students might yet escape the worst system in the country, says du Pont.

Source: Pete du Pont, "Liberals Against Choice: Sens. Kennedy and Specter want to keep poor kids trapped in bad schools," September 24, 2003.

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