- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who bolted the Republican Party this year in a dispute over education funding, voted against the education bill yesterday after failing to gain satisfaction from his new friends in the Democratic majority.
Mr. Jeffords cast a "no" vote his first against an education bill in his 25-year congressional career while Democratic leaders hailed the measure which passed 87-10 as a landmark reform.
"To vote for this education bill as it now stands, I believe, is counterproductive, if not destructive," he said.
Then Mr. Jeffords went off to another book signing of his autobiographical "My Declaration of Independence" at a local bookstore.
Mr. Jeffords quit the Republican Party in June to become an independent, single-handedly throwing control of the Senate to the Democrats. He had locked horns with the White House over his desire to increase special-education funding.
The administration further angered Mr. Jeffords at the time by suggesting it would not renew the Northeast Dairy Compact, a program prized by Mr. Jeffords for the price supports it gives to Vermont dairy farmers.
But as the year ends, Republicans noted that Mr. Jeffords got neither his special-education funding nor, at the moment, renewal of the dairy compact.
"His dairy issue goes unresolved and he didn't get what he wanted on education," said an administration official. "Maybe he misses what Senator [Trent] Lott did for him."
Mr. Lott, the Senate minority leader, had fought for the dairy program on Mr. Jeffords' behalf while the Vermonter was a Republican.
Asked on NBC's "Today" show this week whether he felt his party switch had been for naught, Mr. Jeffords replied, "In a way."
Mr. Jeffords criticized Senate Democratic leaders for not pressing for a separate vote yesterday to increase funding for the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).
"I am extremely disappointed that the final product does not include this critical amendment," he said. "I am afraid that this bill may actually do more harm than good."
Six Democrats and three Republicans also voted against the bill.
Senate Republicans, who lost their majority status and committee chairmanships when Mr. Jeffords became an independent, were guarded in their comments about his vote yesterday.
"We'll just leave Jim to his own devices," said Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican and chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Senate GOP's conference, said Mr. Jeffords' vote "maybe goes to show that there are other reasons behind him leaving the Republican Party other than the [reasons] he said."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide