Another Week by a Do-Nothing Congress: GOP Priorities Continue to Hurt Middle Class, Economic Stability

For Immediate Release:

June 19, 2012

Contact:

Katie GrantDaniel Reilly, 202-225-3130

With two weeks to go before the highway bill expires and student loan interest rates double, House Republicans are not taking action on either item. Instead, they're once again wasting time on political messaging bills. Their message items this week: two anti-environmental bills that do not create jobs and threaten public health. It’s clear Republicans are more interested in running out the clock than they are in helping students and families or in creating jobs.

 

A review of Republican inaction on these expiring items:

HIGHWAY BILL

  • It’s been 97 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan highway bill with the support of 74 Senators, and House Republicans still refuse to bring it up for a vote.
  • Republicans have suggested that they will not be able to pass a bipartisan highway bill by the June 30 deadline, putting thousands of jobs and construction projects at risk: "Frankly, I think if we get to June 30th, it'd be a six-month extension, and move this thing out of the political realm that it appears to be in at this moment." [Speaker John Boehner, Roll Call 6/7/12]

STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES

  • Student loan interest rates will double on July 1 without Congressional action.
  • This will affect 7.4 million students and cost them $6 billion over the next 10 years – an unacceptable cost for our nation’s students that are facing an already weak economy.
  • Republicans have not brought forward a serious, bipartisan effort to prevent these rates from doubling without undermining the middle class or working families.

Here’s what Republicans are focused on instead:

H.R. 2578 – Conservation and Economic Growth Act  
H.R. 4480 – Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012   

We’re not the only ones who noticed Republicans are focused on the wrong priorities:

From National Journal: Conservation Bill on Tap In House

“The House will take up the Conservation and Economic Growth Act this week. This package of 14 bills is advertised the way all bills are advertised these days, as being a jobs bill. There are some gems in this one, including a provision allowing deadly force to protect salmon in the Columbia River from ‘aggressive California sea lions,’ and a provision that supports an increase in venues for recreational shooting.”

From Roll Call: House Schedule Is Tight, Political

“Entering a crucial stretch for the student loan debate and transportation reauthorization conference committee, House negotiators will continue churning away this week while the floor debate will be dominated by election-year energy messaging.”

From Washington Post: Congress faces an agenda full of front-burner issues

“Unless Congress acts, the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, raising the cost of college for millions of students. On the same day, without congressional intervention, a short-term measure funding the nation’s highway and bridge-building program will also expire, forcing construction workers off the job.”

From CQ: Deadlines Put Squeeze on Congress

“The bills stalled in front of approaching deadlines are measures that previous Congresses have easily completed. After all, voters across the political spectrum welcome roads and other transportation projects that offer tangible benefits to their communities. And millions of students and their parents are glad to save money on interest payments.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Republicans See Advantages in Go-Slow Approach on Bills

“But some Republicans say they are wary of cutting deals that would curb the options of more-conservative leadership that could be in place next year.”

Click here to read in pdf.

Follow Whip Hoyer on Facebook and Twitter.