CFI Calls Out Underhanded Voucher Scheme in Bipartisan Budget Bill

For Immediate Release: February 9, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785


The Center for Inquiry today rebuked Congress for eroding the separation of church and state in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement by cynically diverting funds for children displaced by natural disasters to a voucher scheme that will primarily benefit private religious schools.

The Bipartisan Budget Agreement makes available $2.7 billion in impact aid to assist school-age children in meeting their educational needs in parts of the country affected by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, as well as by wildfires in California. But buried in the over 650-page bill is a provision that provides up to $10,000 per child for displaced children to attend private schools.

Two-thirds of private schools in the United States are religious, and by allocating public funds for children to attend these schools, American taxpayers foot the bill for the teaching of sectarian beliefs that may contradict known scientific facts.

“Children who have been displaced by a natural disaster absolutely need and deserve access to a quality public education as soon as possible,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “Congress is right to provide funding that will help families to resume their children’s education. But they shouldn’t use disaster relief as a cover to divert taxpayer money to vouchers for religious schools that can discriminate against LGBTQ, disabled, and non-religious children.”

“Hurricanes and wildfires do not discriminate, and neither should our country’s disaster relief assistance,” said Lemieux.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at