How Did They Vote?
House of Representatives
1. Religious Liberty Protection Act (RLPA)H.R. 1691
Passed by 306 to 118, the RLPA tried to fix a real problem in the wrong way. Addressing the damage done to religious freedom by the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Boerne v. Flores, RLPA claimed that religious activity could now be protected under Congress's constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. But religion is not commerce. HSLDA believes this wrong interpretation of the Commerce Clause would create a dangerous precedent for future protection of religious liberty. Although this bill never passed the Senate, a less offensive version of this bill passed both chambers by unanimous consent on July 27, 2000.
2. A+ Education Savings AccountsH.R. 2488
This legislation would have reduced federal taxes by $792 billion over 10 years. It would have also reduced the marriage penalty; cut the capital gains tax rate for individuals; reduced the estate and gift tax rates; and-most importantly for home schoolers-increased the annual contribution limit for Education Savings Accounts (ESA) from $500 to $2,000. ESAs permit tax-free withdrawals to pay for public, private, and home school elementary and secondary tuition and expenses. President Clinton vetoed this legislation.
3. Academic Achievement for All (also known as "Straight A's")H.R. 2300
Straight A's would have taken the first step toward returning education spending decisions from federal to local control. It would give states the flexibility to spend federal education funds in exchange for new accountability requirements and pledges to improve student performance. If a participating state could not meet its own objectives within five years, it would have to revert back to the current allocation system.
4. Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Bill of 2000H.R. 4810
The House failed to garner the two-thirds majority necessary to override President Clinton's veto of this bill. H.R. 4810 would have promoted marriage and family values by fixing a flaw in current IRS code that taxes married couples at a much higher rate than unmarried, cohabiting couples. First, it would have increased the standard deduction for married couples to the equivalent of the deductions for two single taxpayers. Then, it would also have expanded the income limits on both the 15 percent and 28 percent tax brackets for married couples to the equivalent of the income limit for two singles. Many low-income families could have kept between $600 and $1,000 more each year. A similar bill is expected to be the very first legislation introduced for the 107th Congress.
5. Final FY2001 Budget LegislationH.R. 4577
This omnibus appropriations bill increased spending for unconstitutional, federal education programs, including a $6.5 billion (18%) increase for the Department of Education. Also funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, etc., this measure authorized a total $111.1 billion in spending. That's a $22 billion (26%) increase from last year's appropriations measure.
1. Educational FlexibilityH.R. 800
Signed into law by President Clinton on April 29, 1999, "EdFlex" gives states greater flexibility in spending federal funds. This is a turn in the right direction for education reform-it empowers states and reduces federal control. EdFlex expands the number of states eligible for greater latitude in spending federal school aid funds from a pilot program of just 12 to all 50. The measure would allow a participating state to waive certain federal rules normally required to use federal education dollars.
2. FY2000 Omnibus AppropriationsH.R. 3194
This measure eliminated two of the largest titles-III and IV-of the Goals 2000 Educate America Act. Cutting Title III alone eliminated over $400 million in invasive local meddling by the U.S. Department of Education. Education goals should be state and local goals-not federal goals.
3. Education Savings AccountsS. 1134
Raising the annual contribution limit from $500 to $2,000, this bill would have allowed families to annually set aside $2,000 per child into tax-free account for educational expenses. The money could be withdrawn and used for pre-K-12 public, private, or home school expenses. Unfortunately, President Clinton vetoed this legislation.
4. FY2001 Labor / HHS / Education AppropriationsH.R. 4577
This Senate bill approved $354.6 billion for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies, including $99.8 billion in discretionary spending. This bill also appropriated $38 million for Title IV of Goals 2000, which was repealed in 1999.
5. Marriage Tax PenaltyH.R. 4810
President Clinton vetoed this bill which would have increased the standard deduction for married couples and expanded the income limits on both the 15 percent and 28 percent tax brackets for married couples to the equivalent of the income limit for two singles. See the description of H.R. 4810 under "How the House Voted."
R E L A T E D I T E M S
A Scorecard for the 105th Congress
Our thoughts on the scorecard