House Passes Student Loan Bill That Would Cut Preventive Health Programs
The GOP’s assault on women’s health continued Friday as the House passed a bill to prevent a hike in student loan interest rates, a legislative remedy that would be paid for with money from a preventive health program that funds breast and cervical cancer screenings. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate, and the White House has already threatened to veto it.
From the Office of Management and Budget via Talking Points Memo:
H.R. 4628 includes an attempt to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created to help prevent disease, detect it early, and manage conditions before they become severe. Women, in particular, will benefit from this Prevention Fund, which would provide for hundreds of thousands of screenings for breast and cervical cancer. This is a politically-motivated proposal and not the serious response that the problem facing America’s college students deserves.
Both sides of the political aisle have insisted they want to keep student loan interest rates from doubling in July, but have offered different ways of doing so. Senate Democrats have proposed paying for the loan program with a tax increase on higher-income people. Some Democrats have said the Republicans’ choice of how to fund the bill demonstrates that they are not interested in keeping student loan rates from going up.
“Make no mistake … our Republican colleagues haven’t changed their minds about this, they’ve changed their tactics,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “If they really wanted to stop student loans from increasing, they wouldn’t seek to cover the cost by cutting funds for cervical cancer screening, by cutting funds for breast cancer screening, but cutting other women’s health care measures. They wouldn’t push a measure the president has already said he will veto.”
But House Speaker John Boehner objected to that characterization, arguing Democrats are the ones politicizing the issue. — TEB
The Huffington Post:
“To accuse us of wanting to cut women’s health is absolutely not true,” [Boehner] said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is beneath us, this is beneath the dignity of this House.”
But Democrats said the political maneuvering was coming from the GOP, and maintained that Republicans were indeed trying to cut a program that would help thousands of women.
“They’re using the student loan issue to drive their agenda. I find that very cynical. I find that in fact quite repulsive,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “They’re not looking for a better way. They’re just looking for a way to cover their rear ends.”