DC Mayor Breaks With Obama To Support GOP-Backed School Choice Bill

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Republicans in the House of Representatives are set to vote on a controversial school choice bill for the District this week, which pits the Democratic mayor and D.C. Council against President Obama.

The Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) gives key funding to D.C. public and private schools that focus on vouchers for students from impoverished communities, giving them chances to pursue meaningful educations. In a rare show of bipartisanship Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Democratic D.C. Council have united to keep the program alive, despite years of opposition from the Obama Administration, reports The Washington Times.

“The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is a proven success with support from Mayor Bowser,” Doug Andres, an aide to Speaker Ryan told The Washington Times. “So the choice for President Obama is simple: stand with D.C. kids and their mayor or entrenched special interests.”

It remains unclear whether or not the president will threaten to veto the legislation, which the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday. Since the program’s inception five years ago President Obama has fought to block it. The vouchers were a key issue for former Speaker John Boehner, who butted heads numerous time with Obama over the program.

“The Administration opposes targeting resources to help a small number of individuals attend private schools rather than creating access to great public schools for every child,” read a statement from the White House in 2011.

In a letter to Speaker Ryan in March, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and eight Council members gave a public endorsement of the SOAR Reauthorization Act, imploring Ryan and fellow representatives to pass the key legislation before the end of the current Congress session. Three of those Council members previously opposed the legislation. (RELATED: DC Liberals Unite With Conservatives To Push Education Bill)

School choice stands as a rare issue that brings liberals and conservatives in Washington, D.C., together. Graduation rates in DCPS are sitting above the average, showing the first real signs of sustained improvement in over a decade.

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