Were it not for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, almost every family would have benefitted from a further expansion of the 529 Education Savings Plan introduced this year.
Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy. He says the Student Empowerment Act – introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in January – would have further expanded the 529 college savings plan to include not only public elementary and secondary school expenses, but also expenses for private, religious, and homeschool students.
But Butcher says Pelosi, at the bidding of teachers unions, killed it after the House version was added to the "must-pass" SECURE Act (H.R. 1994). Because that Democrat-sponsored bill was viewed as bipartisan, it passed overwhelmingly – minus the Student Empowerment Act.
"The leadership in the House, which we know is controlled by the party that generally opposes school choice and efforts such as this, [saw to it] that the bill didn't make it through that chamber," he tells OneNewsNow.
Butcher says lawmakers from both sides should view the Student Empowerment Act as taxpayers using their own money to save for the needs of their children. "Any time that a proposal such as this gets scuttled or fails to make any ground, what you're doing is you're limiting the options that a family has," he laments.
Jon Schweppe, writing for The Daily Caller, takes Pelosi and the Democratic Party to task for thwarting Cruz's bill.
"It's difficult to comprehend why anyone would have a problem with families getting a tax break to save money for books and tutoring," he writes. "But hey, this is the modern Democratic Party. They don't actually care about the family, nor do they care about expanding access to education."