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Senate OKs education accounts; White House threatens veto

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Senate has given final passage to education reform legislation permitting tax-free savings accounts to be used for private schooling at the elementary and secondary levels, but President Clinton has threatened to veto it.
Senators voted 59-36 in favor of a conference report permitting education savings accounts. Only two Republicans voted against it June 24, while eight Democrats supported the measure. The House of Representatives approved the conference report June 18 in a 225-197 vote. Both votes were short of the two-thirds required to override a presidential veto.
The provision, with Sen. Paul Coverdell, R.-Ga., as chief sponsor, would allow parents or others to place as much as $2,000 a year for a child in an account with no tax on the interest if the savings are used for education. This post-tax money could be used for kindergarten through 12th grade students at private, religious or home schools, but it also could be utilized for such expenses as tutoring, uniforms or home computers for public-school students. Such accounts already are permitted at the college level.
The House originally passed the legislation in October, but the Senate adopted a different version in April, setting up the need for a conference committee to work out the differences for final passage.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission endorsed the measure in August as one of its top 10 immediate legislative priorities.
Last summer, Clinton removed the Coverdell plan from the budget deal.