As the clock ticked down to a federal government shutdown on Friday, congressional Democrats were infuriated that the debate had turned to social policy provisions proposed by the GOP, most of which were eventually jettisoned in the final deal.
But Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, was thrilled that at least one of those survived-a school vouchers’ funding measure that provides money for poor children in the District of Columbia to attend private schools.
In a statement on Saturday, Lieberman called it a “fundamental civil rights” issue for kids in Washington. And he lauded House Republican Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also a champion of the voucher initiative, for pushing it through.
The District’s mayor, Vincent Gray, had a different take. “The District of Columbia’s right to govern itself has, once again, been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency,” said Gray, who, along with other city officials, has long opposed the voucher program. “This is ludicrous.”
Lieberman’s statement was silent on the other policy provision included in the final bill, which would prevent D.C. from using any local city funds to pay for low-income women’s abortions.
Most of the attention in Friday’s last-minute, late-night negotiations was focused on a Republican proposal to strip all funding for Planned Parenthood and other clinics for prevention health services to poor women. That wasn’t included in the final agreement.