Senate Democrats Target Homeschool Families in Last-Minute Tax Reform Tantrum
As the Republican Party edged closer to passing historic tax reform, Democrats in the U.S. Senate used a last-minute procedural protest to attack homeschool families. Their petty complaint struck the short title of the tax reform bill, one provision of the endowment tax, and the extension of college savings plans to homeschool expenses.
The homeschool attack proved particularly revealing. The Republican tax bill would extend the use of 529 tax-advantaged saving plans — originally intended to foster saving for college tuition — to K-12 public and private schools, as well as homeschooling. Rather than complaining that 529s should only be for college, the Democrats struck the homeschool provision, leaving the K-12 school extension in place.
Make no mistake: this was a disgusting attack on the families of approximately 1.5 million American children who are educated at home, perhaps in an attempt to privilege teacher's unions.
On Tuesday night, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a joint statement in a last-ditch attempt to halt the passage of the tax reform bill. Ironically, they blamed Republicans for breaking the rules, in the very act of applying the rules as a bludgeon against homeschool families.
"In the mad dash to provide tax breaks for their billionaire campaign contributors, our Republican colleagues forgot to comply with the rules of the Senate," Sanders and Wyden said. "We applaud the parliamentarian for determining that three provisions in this disastrous bill are in violation of the Byrd rule."
The Byrd rule lays out six criteria deemed "extraneous" in any reconciliation bill. Presence of these "extraneous" parts of legislation would increase the threshold for a bill to pass the Senate — 60 senators, rather than just 50, would be required to vote for it.
Sanders and Wyden admitted their intent in pushing the Byrd rule: "It is our intention to raise a point of order to remove these provisions from the conference report and require the House to vote on this bill again."