The Up or Down Vote Our Country Really Deserves

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President Barack Obama is touring the country asking for an up-or-down vote on his health care plan. Forget for a second that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) can schedule an up-or-down vote on the Senate health care bill any time she wants, and keep in mind that while Democrats are trying to create the legislative text for President Obama’s “new” health care proposal, Senate Democrats are also pushing to include student lending provisions in the reconciliation bill. What does student lending have to do with health care you might ask? Nothing. But the Senate routinely attaches seemingly unrelated matters to must-pass legislation.

That is what makes Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) refusal to honor Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) request to offer an amendment funding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act so transparently hypocritical. Lieberman has been fighting for months to get an up-or-down vote on the DCOSP and saw a good opportunity with the Business Relief Act. But Reid prevented an up-or-down vote by ruling Lieberman’s amendment “not germane” to the underlying legislation. When has that ever stopped the Senate before?


The reality is that the Obama administration and Senate Democrats want to avoid an up-or-down vote on the DCOSP at all costs. Such a vote would force them to choose between their lofty post-partisan education rhetoric and the cold hard reality of the fact that liberal Democrats are beholden to the interests of the teachers unions. Articulating the official position of the Obama administration, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year: “We must close the achievement gap by pursuing what works best for kids, regardless of ideology. In the path to a better education system, that’s the only test that really matters.” What works. Regardless of ideology. That’s the only test.

Well the tests are in and the evidence is that the DCOSP works. Specifically, the Obama administration’s own Department of Education released a report showing “those offered a scholarship were performing at statistically higher levels in reading