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.
If it takes one step forward with its strong language on improving border security, it takes two steps back by giving the Secretary of Homeland Security broad and sweeping discretion to waive its border security requirements, Hans von Spakovsky explains.
The bill appears to have strong language setting forth strict rules and requirements for border security. But perception is not reality because it also gives the “secretary of homeland security pretty much carte blanche to waive the vast majority of the requirements detailed in the bill.”
Don’t believe von Spakovsky?
Institutions such as the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees and the United States Citizen and Immigration Service Council expressed serious concerns with the bill on May 9 and May 20, respectively. They fear the “virtually unlimited discretion” the bill gives to DHS and they sent a letter to Congress letting lawmakers know.
House Republicans renewed their long-standing effort to overturn the 2010 health care overhaul, passing a bill Thursday to repeal the law in its entirety.
The legislation, sponsored by Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, is the first such effort in the current Congress. The bill marks the GOP’s third attempt to fully repeal the law (PL 111-148,PL 111-152) since taking control of the House in 2011 — none of the attempts advanced in the Democratic Senate. In total, Republicans have voted to undo the law, or parts of it, more than 35 times, with the last vote for a total repeal in July 2012 as a symbolic gesture following the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold the law.
The bill passed Thursday comes more than three weeks after House GOP leadership unexpectedly pulled from floor consideration a measure (HR 1549) that would have extended enrollment in the high-risk pools by transferring money from another part of the law. Several conservative groups, like Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth, blasted the bill for attempting to fix the law and encouraged the House to vote on a full repeal.
In the mid-’80s, many Members of Congress advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and as his attorney general, I supported his decision.
The path to citizenship was not automatic. Immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam, and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible.
This should sound familiar, as it’s quite close to the path and provisions set forth by the Gang of Eight.
Promises were made in that bill — “from border security to law enforcement” — that were never fulfilled.
FARM BILL. Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee had its 14-hour farm bill markup and backed the five-year bill. The media and bill’s supporters talk about the “savings” in the bill, which are negligible in light of the nearly trillion-dollar cost, and which really only exist by Washington logic:
The House Agriculture Committee late Wednesday night approved a $940 billion farm bill in a 36 to 10 vote, showing strong bipartisan support.
The bill, expected on the House floor in June, was approved shortly before midnight after a marathon markup session that began at 10 a.m. and which disposed of about 100 amendments.
Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) touted the fact the bill is scored as reducing the deficit by $39.7 billion over ten years, and the fact that, unlike in last year’s failed effort, he has a commitment for floor time from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, and lawmakers hope to approve a new bill before the August recess.