Federal File

January 19, 2000 1 min read

Showdown countdown

Education savings accounts will again figure prominently among Republicans’ proposals in the House this year, and party leaders are already scheduling a showdown with the White House.

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., wants a savings-accounts plan to be the second item voted on during the upcoming second session of the 106th Congress.

It is one of three major tax-relief proposals that the speaker has announced will be top priorities; he wants the first vote of the session to be on eliminating the so-called marriage tax.

Rep. J. Dennis Hastert

“This is only the start of our agenda to make certain that we secure the blessings of prosperity for our children into the next century, but I think it is a good start,” Mr. Hastert said this month in a speech announcing his party’s priorities.

House GOP aides are working on the details of this year’s initiative, but the plan will likely look a lot like last year’s legislation, according to Mr. Hastert’s office. Aides expect the House vote to occur shortly after the House convenes late this month, and no later than April.

Last year’s legislation would have allowed parents to set aside up to $2,000 in tax-free accounts to cover public and private K-12 education costs. Currently, parents may set aside up to $500 in such accounts for higher education expenses only.

President Clinton vetoed the plan along with a larger GOP tax-relief package last September. Mr. Clinton and most other Democrats view such credits as a threat to public education funding.

But the savings accounts have strong support from most Republicans in the Senate.

Mr. Clinton would likely veto another such bill, according to Erica Lepping, the spokeswoman for the Department of Education.

—Joetta L. Sack

A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2000 edition of Education Week