Loan interest rates in danger from White House threat to veto bill

Nickalas Tabbert

Students may soon be seriously affected by student loan changes.

The White House threatened a veto Friday of a Republican bill keeping the interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this summer.

The veto came as GOP leaders began pushing the legislation toward passage Friday in the House, The Associated Press said.

The House bill would keep interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent, instead of letting them rise to 6.8 percent on July 1 without any congressional action. 

The White House said the bill would finance its $5.9 billion cost by abolishing a health care program.  The bill would repeal a preventive care program created under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law of 2010, the Associated Press said.  The White House said that "women in particular" benefit from the program – a message that reflects the Democratic effort to woo women voters by accusing Republicans of waging a war on them.

"This is a politically motivated proposal and not the serious response that the problem facing America's college students deserves," a White House message said.  It also said Obama's advisers would urge him to veto the bill.

Republicans have called the prevention program a "slush fund," saying the money is not controlled tightly enough.

"The president is so desperate to fake a fight that he's willing to veto a bill to help students over a slush fund that he advocated cutting in his own budget," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.  "It's as simple as this: Republicans are acting to help college students and the president is now getting in the way."