* Republicans seeks to pay for it with money from healthcare
* Democrats favor plugging tax loophole for rich
* White House pushes back but sees prospect for deal
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON, April 25 The Republican-led House of
Representatives, in an election-year showdown with President
Barack Obama, moved on Wednesday to avert a doubling of a
low-federal student loan rate by taking money from Obama's
House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the proposal and
announced that his chamber would vote on it on Friday - after
Obama on a campaign-style tour pushed Congress to take action to
preserve the low rate for millions of students.
While Boehner's measure is expected to win House passage, it
will face rejection in the Senate, controlled by Obama's
Democrats, said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry
The White House, which has sought to cast Obama as champion
of the middle class while painting the Republicans and their
likely presidential nominee Mitt Romney as beholden to the rich,
quickly pushed back against Boehner's funding proposal but held
out the prospect of an election-year deal.
"This is no time to refight old political battles. We should
be able to work together to find offsets that don't penalize
middle-class families or undermine efforts to help more
Americans stay healthy," White House spokesman Nick Pappas said.
Unless Congress acts by July 1, the loan rate will double
to 6.8 percent for more than 7.4 million students.
Democrats favor covering the projected $6 billion cost of
extending the low federal student loan rate for a year by a
plugging a loophole that they say wealthy professionals use to
avoid payroll taxes.
At a hastily called news conference, Boehner said: "Today
I'm pleased to announce that on Friday the House will vote on a
bill to extend the current interest rate on federal student
loans for one year."
"We will pay for this by taking money from one of the slush
funds in the president's health care law," Boehner said.
HEALTHCARE OVERHAUL FUNDS
Boehner would pay for the extension by taking money from a
fund established by Obama's healthcare overhaul to finance
wellness programs and public health activities to prevent
Reid said, "Democrats are opposed to short changing a
program that prevents disease and protects against public health
emergencies just so Republicans can continue protecting
millionaire tax dodgers."
"The best way to pay for legislation to keep student loan
interest rates from doubling is to close a tax loophole that
allows wealthy individuals to avoid paying the same income taxes
that middle-class Americans pay," Jentleson said.
Republicans won control of the House in 2010, promising to
repeal the healthcare overhaul. They have been unable to do so,
but have repeatedly sought to chip away at it.
Boehner ripped into Obama for his campaign-style events
before largely young audiences where he pushed Congress to
extend the low student loan rate.
"This week, the president is traveling the country, on the
taxpayers' dime, campaigning and trying to invent a fight where
there isn't one," Boehner said.
"We can and will fix the problem without a bunch of
campaign-style theatrics," Boehner said.