Republicans defied a veto threat as the House voted today to prevent federal loan costs from doubling for millions of college students. The vote gave the GOP a momentary election-year triumph on a bill that has become enmeshed in partisan battles over the economy, women's issues, and President Obama's health care overhaul. The measure's 215-195 passage was largely symbolic because the package is going nowhere in the Democratic-dominated Senate. Both parties agree students' interest costs should not rise, but they are clashing along a familiar fault line over how to cover the $6 billion tab: Republicans want spending cuts and Democrats want higher revenues.
Democrats trained their fire on the Republican plan to pay for the bill by abolishing a preventive health fund created by Obama's 2010 revamping of the health care system. Democrats said that program especially helped women by allocating money for cancer screening and other initiatives and that eliminating it was only the latest GOP blow against women. "Give me a break," roared House Speaker John Boehner to rousing cheers from Republican lawmakers. "This is the latest plank in the so-called war on women, entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain." (Read more student loans stories.)