Monday, August 27, 2007

Heller's School Daze

Cross posted by request from Desert Beacon:

Congressman Dean Heller's (R-NV) sending post cards again. Franked of course, one wouldn't want the Congressman to actually have to pay postage on a relatively obvious 'campaign piece' complete with a smiling (and lily white) young girl on the front, to illustrate Heller's "Back to School Message." There is, however, one little catch. There's this line: "I have also supported legislation to reduce the cost of college by lowering interest rates on student loans."

Not. So. Fast. Rep. Heller refers to the "College Cost Reduction Act." This would be H.R. 2669, to provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 601 of the concurrent resolution on the FY 2008 budget. This bill reduced lender subsidies by $19 billion, and calls for investing those funds in programs to increase student grants, improve access to student loans, and cutting interest rates. [GovTrack] What Representative Heller omits to say on his postcard is that during roll call 612 he voted to have H.R. 2669 sent back to committee, adding his "yes" to 199 others who tried to kill the bill with a motion to recommit. Heller reversed his position and voted in favor of the bill's passage in the House during roll call 613. One might suppose that Rep. Heller's general statement is better than saying, "I was against it before I was for it." However, this wasn't the first occasion on which Representative Heller could have displayed his support for decreasing student loan interest rates.

Heller does not refer directly to H.R. 5 a bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reduce interest rates for student borrowers. His record on that piece of legislation isn't what one might classify as enthusiastic support. For example, on January 17th roll call 29 on ordering the previous question to bring H.R. 5 to a vote Congressman Heller's name is noticeably absent from the 225 "yeas." It does appear among the 191 "nays." Perhaps Rep. Heller means he supported the resolution to bring H.R. 5 up for consideration?

Well, no. During roll call 30 on agreeing to H.Res. 65 providing for the consideration of the College Student Relief Act, Rep. Heller was among the 190 "nay" votes. 223 other Representatives voted "aye." Maybe Representative Heller means that he didn't support stuffing the bill back in committee on a motion to recommit?

Not exactly. Roll call 31 finds Rep. Heller standing shoulder to shoulder with 186 other Republicans voting in favor of the motion to recommit. 241 other Representatives voted to keep the bill alive.

It is only on the very last vote, roll call 32, that Rep. Heller votes in favor of H.R. 5, along with 356 other Representatives, 71 other members of the GOP held out and voted "no." In short, out of the four opportunities Representative Heller had to support "legislation to reduce the cost of college by lowering interest rates on student loans," he voted "no" during three of them.

Perhaps it would have taken too much space on the post card to write, "I had at least two definitive opportunities to vote in favor of lowering interest rates on student loans, and I voted against both of them until it was obvious they were going to pass, so then I voted in favor of them on the last possible roll call."

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