Status in the 109th Congress

National leaders have yet to introduce a national voucher program; however, President Bush has signaled his support for such an initiative by setting aside $75 million in his fiscal year 2006 budget for a “choice demonstration fund” to create and/or support voucher programs nationwide.

During the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed a DC Appropriations bill (H.R. 2765) with $10 million designated for a DC voucher program. The House added the District of Columbia Parental Choice Incentive Act of 2003 (H.R. 2556) as an amendment to establish the voucher program by a 205-203 vote. Because of some controversy surrounding this extremely close vote, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) called for a revote. In the revote, House leadership held the vote open 20 minutes past the deadline in order to garner the votes necessary to pass the amendment, and in the end, the amendment passed by one vote: 209-208.

Although the D.C. voucher program did not pass in the Senate, voucher advocates in Congress were able to slip it into an omnibus appropriations bill which passed in February 2004.

Updated March 11, 2005

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