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White House Says Obama Will Not Allow D.C. School Vouchers To Expire

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insinuated today that President Obama will reverse a provision in the omnibus spending bill to terminate school vouchers for underprivileged students in Washington, D.C.

The president signed the $410 billion dollar omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2009 this afternoon. It includes a provision that lets funding for the city's school voucher program to expire at the end of the 2010 school year. The program allows about 1,700 mostly low-income and minority students to attend private schools as an alterative to the struggling D.C. public school system.

"It wouldn't make sense to disrupt the education of those that are in that system," Gibbs said in discussing the president's thinking. "And I think we'll work with Congress to ensure that a disruption like that doesn't take place."

Asked if President Obama plans to restore the program's funding in his full budget, which is currently being drafted, Gibbs said, "whether it's in the budget or in the -- the appropriations process," the administration will work to make sure "that disruption doesn't take place."

Gibbs also said that the voucher program, which benefits students attending his daughter's private school, is not a long term solution to the problem of subpar city schools.

"The president doesn't believe that vouchers are a long-term answer to our educational problems and the challenges that face our public school system, where the vast majority of -- of students are educated in this country," he said.

The Senate voted 50 to 39 Tuesday to reject a Republican-sponsored amendment to the spending bill which would have extended the voucher program beyond the 2009-2010 school year.

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