Another partisan fight over federal student loan interest rates looms on the House floor today as Republicans try to shift the program to a market-based approach. The GOP bill was based on a proposal in Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget request to peg interest rates to 10-year Treasuries. The key distinction is the bill would allow rates to fluctuate with the market and be reset each year. Democrats want to eliminate some uncertainty by setting rates on the Treasury’s actual cost of borrowing and then fixing them for the life of the loan. In its veto threat, the White House said the bill would burden students from lower-income families with potentially onerous rate increases. Critics have also noted the legislation lacks Obama’s proposal to extend repayment options to borrowers who have already left school. Even if the bill makes it out of the House, its prospects are grim in the Democratic Senate, which could adopt a plan (S 953) to simply extend the current 3.4-percent rate or to address rates as part of a reauthorization the Higher Education Act.
After five days of debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee backed a bipartisan immigration overhaul Tuesday evening that would create an incremental path to citizenship for most of the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.
The panel sent the sweeping legislation (S 744) to the full Senate by a 13-5 vote, prompting applause and chants of “Yes we can” from onlookers in the packed committee room. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he’ll move to bring the bill to the floor in June.
Republicans Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona joined all panel Democrats in support of the measure. Graham and Flake are members of the bipartisan “gang of eight” that crafted the proposal, and Hatch’s support — in committee at least — was cemented earlier in the evening, when the panel tacked on a compromise measure on high-skilled worker visas.
Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham stated:
Yesterday’s vote is further evidence that some in Washington seem intent on repeating the mistakes of the past. In 1986, Congress granted amnesty to three million people with the promise of enforcement and border security. Since then the population of illegal immigrants has nearly quadrupled.
The Senate Judiciary Committee missed an opportunity to get immigration reform right. America can get the benefits of a reformed immigration system without the costs of amnesty. The American people deserve a system that works.
At least 51 people — including at least 20 children — were killed when a massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, officials said.
Seven of those children were killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, according to a police official.
Early Tuesday, emergency personnel continued to scour the school’s rubble — a scene of twisted I-beams and crumbled cinder blocks.
Just as with last year’s attempt at a farm program reauthorization, some conservatives say the bill’s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, amounting to $20.5 billion over 10 years, do not go far enough, while many Democrats say they are too much.
Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., said this year’s bill (HR 1947) tries to restrain SNAP’s growth and to focus more on people living at 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
“I like to think we have a well-balanced bill and that we can draw from all sides. The extremes will never support us. I think we have enough of a coalition,” Lucas said Wednesday, shortly after his committee approved the five-year farm bill on a 36-10 vote.
It is not “extreme,” however, to want to separate food stamp policy from farm policy. On the contrary, it would be a much more sound and reasonable approach to legislating. Farm and food stamp policy should be considered separately, as Heritage explains, because it would increase lawmakers’ accountability, allow for more transparent government, simplify the legislative process so that lawmakers can truly digest these complex issues, and allow these items to be considered in the proper committees. Above all, “real reform and improvements to these programs would have a much better chance of being enacted.”
There will also be a number of amendments considered this week for the farm and food stamp bill in the Senate (sub. req’d):
On national policies, they expect to referee amendments to restructure the federal sugar program, increase cuts to the nation’s largest nutrition program and to limit federal crop insurance premiums based on farmers’ income.
More regionally driven issues such as whether to repeal provisions that shift the responsibility of regulating imported fish sold as catfish from the Food and Drug Administration to the Agriculture Department may also surface.
It’s May of 2013, and time is not standing still. Obamacare is already a disaster. There are limited but very important opportunities to prevent Obamacare from being implemented in 2014. Full repeal is of course the goal, but there are other options for pulling the rug out from under this dreadful law.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is seizing these opportunities to stop Obamacare from causing irreparable damage to our health care system. He has offered two pieces of legislation that will help defeat Obamacare. The first is The Medicaid Expansion Repeal and State Flexibility Act, and the second, introduced yesterday, is the Federal Repeal of Expensive Exchanges Act.