The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Joe Conn, Rob Boston or Sandhya Bathija
202.466.3234 telephone

Americans United Asks Why 'Broke' Nation Still Has Money For D.C. Religious Schools

Church-State Watchdog Group Deplores Congressional Committee Vote To Revive Federal Taxpayer Subsidy Of Ineffective Voucher Plan


Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) keeps saying the country is "broke" - so Americans United for Separation of Church and State would like to know why he is determined to funnel $20 million in tax dollars to religious schools in Washington, D.C.

Boehner is attempting to railroad the reauthorization of a controversial school voucher "experiment" in D.C. through the House.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today approved H.R. 471 on a 21-14 vote. The Boehner-sponsored measure could go to a House floor vote as early as next week.

"Speaker Boehner says we're broke and have to slash federal spending," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Yet, he's willing to throw $20 million at religious and other private schools."

Added Lynn, "This voucher scheme undermines public education and church-state separation, and I am disappointed that the House committee voted to fund it."

Lynn also noted that the D.C. voucher experiment hasn't lived up to proponents' claims. Four studies of the program by the U.S. Department of Education concluded that it did not improve academic achievement.

Americans United sent a letter to committee members urging them to vote no on the bill.

"The D.C. voucher experiment has failed," Lynn said. "It's time to put the focus back where it belongs: on the public schools."

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.