D.C. School Choice Hangs in the Balance

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was unable to secure the 60 votes needed for cloture on the $410 billion omnibus spending bill tonight, setting the stage for a showdown Monday on the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Democrat leaders tried in vain to prevent amendments to the omnibus. But it was ultimately three of their own — Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) — who put Reid in the awkward position of canceling tomorrow’s vote.

The delay opens the door for a fight to preserve the Opportunity Scholarship Program for more than 1,700 low-income students in Washington, D.C. Democrat-drafted language in the omnibus would abruptly end the scholarships by requiring reauthorization by the D.C. Council, sending the mostly poor, black students back to underperforming public schools.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has introduced an amendment, set to be debated and voted on Monday evening, to strike the killer language. Early today, Ensign joined other Republicans and D.C. scholarship recipients to voice support for the scholarships: