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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Congress to question Brown, Gray on voucher program

By Mike DeBonis

vincekwame.JPG

Next week, the new District governing team of Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown will make their maiden appearance together before Congress.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has called a hearing of his Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning. The subject: "Saving the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program" -- aka school vouchers.

Gray has appeared at congressional hearings several times as D.C. Council chairman. But this will be Brown's first appearance as a top official.

There promises to be some tension: Brown is an avowed voucher supporter. Gray is not, opposing the federally funded program on home rule grounds.

Last month, Lieberman and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) introduced bills to revive the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which Democrats did not permanently reauthorize in the last Congress.

Gray appears to be the only voucher skeptic on the hearing panel. Appearing after Gray and Brown are two outspoken proponents of the program, former D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous and Virginia Walden Ford, director of the D.C. Parents for School Choice nonprofit. Patrick Wolf, a University of Arkansas professor who has served as the official evaluator of the program will also appear. Last year, he spoke highly of the voucher program's effectiveness, despite ambiguous conclusions in his final report.

The House bill has been referred to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

A spokesman for Issa said a subcommittee will hold a hearing on the issue "sometime in the next few weeks."

Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis  | February 11, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Kwame Brown, The District, Vincent Gray  
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