CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
April 26, 2012 – 11:17 p.m.
Student Loan Offset Splits Parties
By Lauren Smith, CQ Staff
Both parties escalated their rhetoric Thursday over extending the student loan interest rate break, without coming to any compromise on how to pay for it.
The House today is expected to pass legislation (
In the Senate, meanwhile, Majority Leader
At a briefing with reporters, House Speaker
“For the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic,” Boehner said.
“These are the types of political stunts [that] aren’t worthy of his office,” he added. “This is the biggest job in the world, and I’ve never seen a president make it smaller.”
At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney shot back by noting that the House GOP budget resolution (
“So we know what their position was,” Carney said. “We are glad they changed it. And they changed it in large part because the president took his argument out to the country, and they felt that pressure.”
Battle Over Public Health Fund
Today’s House debate is likely to focus on the Republicans’ choice of Obama’s prevention and public health fund — which they call a “slush fund” — to offset the $6 billion cost of extending the 3.4 percent student loan interest rate for one year. The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated a savings of $12 billion over 10 years if the fund is repealed, with the remaining $6 billion going toward deficit reduction.
House Minority Leader
“We will not support a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul, which ostensibly supports a middle-class initiative while making those very same people pay for it,” Pelosi said.
At a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary
Student Loan Offset Splits Parties
“There are clearly ways that student loans can be funded other than destroying the prevention efforts which are finally under way in this country after decades of talking about them,” Sebelius said. She called the GOP plan to offset the cost a “false choice,” adding that the country should both invest in education and keep “our children healthy in the first place so they can get to college.”
Republicans countered that their proposed offset is reasonable and added that Democrats supported pulling $5 billion from the prevention fund earlier this year to help pay for legislation (PL 112-78) to extend the payroll tax holiday and prevent a cut in Medicare payments to physicians. Republicans also noted that four Democrats crossed party lines to support a measure (
“This is a sensible, bipartisan spending cut,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “We’ll pass it tomorrow, so that we can focus on bigger problems, like improving the job prospects for these students when they graduate.”
Senate Efforts to Find Accord
Despite the heated rhetoric, there were some hints of future conciliation. Leaders of both parties in the Senate met Thursday to explore offsets that would be reasonable to Democrats and Republicans.
“We’re open to whatever they want to show us,” said Sen.
In addition, Carney said Thursday that the White House supports the Senate Democratic pay-for as one alternative, but that other options exist, many of which were included in the president’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal.
“We are willing to negotiate this,” Carney said.
Melissa Attias contributed to this story.