Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

U.S. House OKs Biggert bill to keep student loan rates from doubling


By a narrow margin, the U.S. House Friday overrode objections on both sides of the aisle and passed a bill sponsored by west suburban Republican Judy Biggert to keep interest rates on federal college loans from doubling.

But Democrats don't like how the bill will be funded — with health care money — and the Obama White House is threatening a veto. The bill almost certainly is headed toward a Senate/House conference committee, Chicago congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat, predicted.

Ms. Biggert's bill passed 215-195. The action came despite opposition not only from Democrats but from the influential Club for Growth, a conservative group that says the feds ought not to be "distorting" the private market.

Ms. Biggert replied that given the state of the economy, "The last thing these students need is more debt."

Without final action, interest on so-called Stafford loans will rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, costing more than seven million students $1,000 each, according to the White House.

To pay for this, Ms. Biggert would shift $6 billion from the Preventive and Public Health Fund in "Obamacare." She likened it to a "slush fund" and said it has "no clear oversight or purpose."

But Democrats like Mr. Quigley say the fund serves a key role in programs such as breast cancer screening, and instead want to pay for the one-year interest rate subsidy by cutting federal incentives to oil programs.

Republicans don't like that, and neither does the Democratic Senate, setting up the clash.

One Illinois congressman from each side of the aisle split with their party on Friday's vote.

Chicago Democrat Dan Lipinski voted yes, saying he doesn't like the funding mechanism but could not sit by and watch interest rates rise. Suburban Republican Joe Walsh voted no. The Tea Party favorite, who wasn't available for comment, is quite conservative on spending issues.

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