The D.C. voucher program — the first to provide federally funded vouchers to students — was launched as a five-year pilot program through the 2004 omnibus appropriations law (PL 108-199). The language was only included after a bitter fight over the proposed program in the Senate.
Alexa Marrero, a spokeswoman for Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, said reauthorization of the program was highly unlikely.
“I think school choice opponents have chosen to put an end to this program,” Marrero said. “This is a lifeline, and it’s being taken away.”
Most Democrats, meanwhile, have long opposed voucher programs, arguing that vouchers steer funding away from the public schools.
“Sen. Kennedy strongly opposed the creation of the program, which takes funds from very needy public schools to send students to unaccountable private schools,” said Melissa Wagoner, a spokeswoman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy , D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
More than 1,715 students with an average annual family income of $22,736 take advantage of the program, according to the Washington Scholarship Fund, which administers the program. Under the D.C. voucher system, students can each receive up to $7,500 for tuition.
Some voucher recipients appear in a video that is an "Open Letter" asking President Obama to help save the program.
Reaction at NRO and the Weekly Standard.