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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 04/27/2012

Revolt on the right over student loans?

Today the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the House GOP bill to extend low interest rates for federally-funded student loans, which would pay for the extension out of Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health fund. Will it pass the House?

Two conservative groups have now come out against the plan, claiming they will hold it against any House Repubilcans who support it. The Club for Growth:

The Club for Growth urges all House members to vote “NO” on the Interest Rate Reduction Act (H.R. 4628)...A vote on this plan, and perhaps procedural votes, will be included in the Club’s 2012 Congressional Scorecard.
Regardless of the merits, the government should not be in the business of subsidizing student loans...Fiscal conservatives should not be promoting bad policy, which this bill contains.

Heritage Action:

This bill proposes to pay for the $5.9 billion extension by taking funds from Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The proper approach to Obamacare is to repeal the entire law. Congress should not use Obamacare as a “slush fund” to pay for temporary extensions.
Heritage Action opposes H.R.4628 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.

It’s unclear whether enough House conservatives will vote against the bill to prevent it from passing, however; House GOP aides seemed confident last night that it would pass. House Dem leaders are whipping their members to vote against the measure. But House Dem aides say they are not certain how many Dems may defect and support it, which could be ominous for Dems: The more Dems that vote Yes, the more House conservatives GOP leaders can afford to lose.

Passage of the House GOP bill is central to the Republican endgame in this fight. GOP aides are hoping that once it has passed, Senate Dems will fail to overcome the GOP filibuster of their own version of the extension, which would be paid for by closing a loophole that helps wealthy taxpayers. If House Republicans pass their bill and Senate Dems don’t, House Republicans are hoping that this will shift the pressure from themselves on to Democrats, making it tougher for Obama to keep hammering away at them on the issue. This could also weaken the Dem negotiating position if and when talks over a compromise on how to pay for the extension start.

On the other hand, if the conservative defections the above groups are trying to bring about prevent the House GOP bill from passing — a very big if, but still — it will enable Obama and Dems to press the case that the GOP won’t support an extension because they are ideologically opposed to government help with student loans. It will undercut the GOP argument that there’s no real dispute over the policy goal itself and that the argument is only over how to pay for it, and weaken the Republican position considerably.

Stay tuned.

By  |  10:55 AM ET, 04/27/2012

 
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