Remember when John Kline (R-MN-02) was “talking in the dark” — flying back to DC to protest the House being on recess — and that the Leadership should be in session to address budget issues ?
Store that memory for a second … after all that was 2008 … and this is 2012 and the Republicans are firmly in control of the House.
But maybe you remember in 2010 when The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act had passed the House the previous September and was included in a larger piece of legislation ? The Student Aid bill would cut out the middle man from federal student loan programs and give students the chance to borrow directly from the federal government instead of from banks; as well as greatly expand the Pell grant program for low-income students.
Republicans opposed the combination and have questioned this use of the reconciliation process.
“The government takeover of health care is about to get weighed down by a government takeover of student loans,” Senior Republican on the House Education Committee Rep. John Kline said in a written statement.
“Surely congressional Democrats would not use budget reconciliation – a complex budget maneuver designed to rein in the cost of government – to increase the size, scope, and cost of government,” Mr. Kline said.
Store that memory for a second … after all that was 2010 … and this is 2012 and the Republicans are firmly in control of the House.
So, what’s happening now ?
The House Republicans promoted a new style of managing the House — Pillars of a New Majority … where bills would be vetted, debated and not rushed.
“We’re moving, I think, towards an agreement on a transportation bill that would also include a one-year fix on the student loan rate increase,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08) told reporters early Wednesday after meeting privately with House Republicans.
Some GOP lawmakers at that meeting said Boehner seemed to favor the emerging deal and said it received a positive reception.
“The general sense is there’s a tremendous amount of support for getting it done,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. “That’s what’s going to drive it across the finish line.”
The two parties spent the last several weeks dueling over how to pay for the $6 billion cost of the student loan bill.
Under the agreement, the government would raise $5 billion by changing how companies calculate the money they have to set aside for pensions. That change would make their contributions more consistent from year to year and in effect reduce their payments initially, lowering the tax deductions they receive for their pension contributions.
Another $500 million would come from increasing the fees companies pay for the government to insure their pension plans, linking those fees to inflation.
In addition, $1.2 billion would be saved by limiting federal subsidies of Stafford loans to six years for undergraduates.
Lawmakers were discussing potentially wrapping in another Senate bill to reauthorize the national flood insurance program for five years.
Chairman Kline, will you be objecting — “Surely congressional Republicans would not use budget reconciliation – a complex budget maneuver designed to rein in the cost of government – to increase the size, scope, and cost of government.”
Of course, they could stand under the Pillars of a New Majority and produce stand-alone legislation to address Stafford Loans … even if that meant working during their previously planned July recess.
Well, the House had a chance to do that as a Resolution was offered :
Sec. 5. It shall not be in order to consider a concurrent resolution providing for adjournment on Friday, June 29, 2012, unless the Majority Leader and Minority Leader jointly certify to the Speaker in writing that the Congress has cleared for presentment to the President measures that will:
–prevent the doubling of interest rates on student loans; and
–reauthorize Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund.
When Roll Call 412 was called John Kline voted to take July off … after all it is parade season.
Republican John Kline campaigns during the Strawberry Festival in Cottage Grove, Minn., Saturday June 16, 2012.