" During the Easter recess, the [Roman] Catholic Bishops mounted a massive lobbying campaign." ...................
"The formation of this coalition, and particularly the opposition of the civil rights groups, angered [Roman] Catholic lobbyists.
On April 15, the [Roman] Catholic Conference accused me of inciting civil rights opposition and distorting the amount of money the federal government spent to aid pupils in nonpublic elementary and secondary schools."
From .......... GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report
From the White House and the Cabinet
By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
305 ................... EDUCATION
I urged [Roman] Catholic schools to monitor the performance of the states carefully. I established HEW's first Office of Nonpublic Schools, appointing as director Edward D'Alessio, president of Our Lady of the Elm College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and former head of the elementary and secondary education division for the U. .S. Catholic Conference.
The President's press conference on February 8 set off a race to complete congressional action. Within ten days, I testified before the House Ways and Means Committee and an extraordinary joint hearing of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Committee on Human Resources.
On February 23, the Senate Finance Committee approved, 14 to 1, a bill providing tuition tax credits for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students. I called the Finance Committee's action
''a devastating blow to public school education in this country that would skew federal benefits toward parochial schools.''
The next day the Senate Human Resources Committee approved unanimously the administration's proposal to expand existing student aid programs. This put the administration's plan neck-and neck with the tuition tax credit plan in the race for the Senate floor. The Human Resources Committee bill lifted completely the income ceiling on eligibility for student loans because our proposed $45,000 lid made 94 percent of the population eligible. At Senator Jacob Javits' s suggestion, the lid was lifted to ease paperwork. An enormous increase in student loan demand has resulted with this money available to all college students at low interest rates; outstanding loans jumped from $5 billion to $8 billion at the beginning of the 1980-81 school year.
Four days later, on February 28, Ford's House Education Subcommittee unanimously voted for an expanded version of our Middle Income Student Assistance proposal. That same day, in his message to the Congress on Elementary and Secondary Education Act amendments, Carter attacked the college tuition tax credit concept, but he reserved his sharpest criticism for the private elementary and secondary school tax credit proposals:
''First, there is grave doubt that such a tax credit program can meet constitutional requirements concerning separation of church and state. Second, the federal government provides funding primarily to help meet the needs of public school children who are disadvantaged, or handicapped, or bilingual, or who have some other form of special need. We do not provide general support for public schools and it would be unfair to extend such support, through a general tax credit to private schools."
On March 8, the full House Education and Labor Committee approved our Middle Income Student Assistance bill by a vote of 32 to 3.
We tried to pass our student aid bill on the suspension calendar on March 20, a procedure that blocked any amendments, including those to add or substitute a tuition tax credit. Although we mustered a 218 to 156 majority, we failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary for passage under suspended rules. That forced our bill to the Rules Committee, chaired by Brooklyn Democrat James Delaney, who strongly supported tuition tax credits, so Speaker O'Neill postponed House floor action until after the Easter recess.
306 ................... GOVERNING AMERICA
During the Easter recess, the Catholic Bishops mounted a massive lobbying campaign. When the Congress returned on April 3, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Al Ullman said his committee would act on a tuition tax credit proposal by Cleveland Democrat Charles Vanik. Vanik suggested a tax credit of up to $100 for each student in elementary and secondary school and $250 for each in college. On April 9, the day before the committee vote, Treasury Secretary Mike Blumenthal and I wrote each member of the committee. Our letter opposed the Vanik proposal:
"An elementary and secondary tax credit .... will be ..... held unconstitutional in the end ...... tax credits impose a high, continuing, and uncontrollable drain on the Treasury Ñ one that is not carefully targeted on real need ..... when both the administration and the Congress should be deeply concerned about inflation and budgetary pressures...."
After a series of sharply contested and close votes, the Ways and Means Committee approved Vanik's proposal for a tuition tax credit up to $250 per student for post-secondary education. But an unusual combination of Southern congressmen opposed to aid for parochial schools and civil rights advocates concerned that tax credits would provide financial assistance for segregated schools, defeated the credit for elementary and secondary schools by a 20 to 16 vote.
The formation of this coalition, and particularly the opposition of the civil rights groups, angered Catholic lobbyists. On April 15, the Catholic Conference accused me of inciting civil rights opposition and distorting the amount of money the federal government spent to aid pupils in nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.
On May 10, the House Rules Committee voted to send the Ways and Means Committee tax credit plan for higher education to the House floor ahead of the administration's student aid plan, and to permit a floor amendment to reinsert the credit for elementary and secondary education. On June 1, the amendment to add elementary and secondary schools passed a closely divided House, 209 to 194. The House then passed, 237 to 158, a tuition tax credit bill that applied to private elementary and secondary school students, as well as all college students.
I called the House vote to provide a credit for parochial schools
"a hollow gesture" that would "only delay the search for constitutional means of assistance to parochial education ...... the parochial schools of this country will never see a dollar of the unconstitutional aid the House voted today because the courts will invalidate it."
On August 3, the Senate Finance Committee scaled down its tuition tax credit for elementary and secondary schools to half the cost of its original bill. Senator Roth said,
"We feel as though we have marched halfway up Pennsylvania Avenue."
The key battleground became the floor of the Senate.
- END QUOTE -
GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report
From the White House and the Cabinet
By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
Published by Simon and Schuster 1981