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Interest Rate Reduction Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Speaker, it's nice to have our Republican friends finally agree that the interest rates would be a problem if they rise and double.

Since 2007, when the rates were first reduced when the Democrats were in the majority, it's been resisted by our friends on the Republican side--resisted in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. And not until recently, when the profile of this issue had been raised to a degree where students and families started to really get involved and engaged, did our friends on the other side of the aisle finally decide that, well, they now don't want the rates to go up either. But cynically, some might say, the only way they can find to pay for it is to attack women's health and children's health.

Now, women don't want this bill that way. Children and students don't want the bill this way. Labor doesn't want the bill this way. Public health groups don't want the bill this way. The Senate has said that they won't accept the bill this way; it's dead on arrival. And the White House senior staff says they'll advise the President to veto the bill this way.

If we really want to set aside partisanship and do this, let's pick a pay-for that the American people can get behind and that we can all agree on. Let's put aside the cynicism, let's stop playing games, and let's do the right thing. Let's make sure the interest rates stay at 3.4 percent. Let's make sure that 177,000 students in Massachusetts and 7 million nationwide have affordable access to college and are able to pay for that bill in a better way when they graduate on that. Let's start doing the right thing.

Last week, our Republican friends found $46 billion to give to hedge fund managers in a tax cut, to give to Donald Trump in his Trump Towers leasing company, to give to other people that already had millions of dollars and didn't pay for it. This week, they finally get brought around to the issue of trying to help students and come up with this cynical aspect of paying for it by, once again, attacking women's health, in this case adding children on--children's immunizations, women's screenings for breast and cervical cancer and birth defects. This is insidious. This is ridiculous on this. And we should move forward and do the right thing.

The fund that the bill addresses is a fund that was attacked a little bit the last time, as the Speaker mentioned, but left largely intact. This one would wipe out the entire fund, twice the amount of money necessary in order to fund what they're purporting to do because they are ideologically going after the health care bill.

We need to make sure that women's health care and children's health care is protected. We need to make sure the interest rates stay low. We are certain we can do that. It won't be done by doing it this way. And Members in the Senate will have to work in conference to make sure that we get to a pay-for for this that makes sense, and it's something we can do. There's 250 tax expenditures in the Tax Code, 250--$1.3 trillion. We can find a way to pay for this interest rate reduction here and do it in a way that all of America can get behind and both parties can get behind without the cynicism and without moving in this direction.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I remind the gentleman that in 2007, the bill was paid for. In fact, it was paid for, and 77 members of the Republican Party agreed as well. Now it is time to pay for it in an intelligent and correct manner.

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Mr. TIERNEY. Before yielding further, I'm going to take 15 seconds and yield that to myself.

Mr. Speaker, this supposed slush fund the people are talking about is a fund identified and given Appropriations Committee authority to designate where it would be spent. That authority was advocated by our friends on the other side, and the Secretary has in fact specified every year where the money be spent: $326,000 in screenings for breast cancer; $284,000 for cervical cancer screenings; $10,000 for breast and cervical cancer; and so on down the line.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the minority leader of the House from California (Ms. Pelosi).

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Mr. TIERNEY. Before I yield, I do want to correct the gentleman. There is somebody around here who gets a free lunch under your bill, and that would be the oil companies, which made $80 billion in profits last year.

I yield for the purpose of making a unanimous consent request to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis).

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Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I just note that it was common sense about 2 weeks ago and almost the entire Republican Party voted to let the rate go to 6.8 percent. It's nice to see that they've found some reality here.

At this time, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer).

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Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I note that I was at that education meeting and heard the Secretary say very quite clearly that no child who gets an immunization under this program will get an immunization under this program if the fund is eliminated. Mrs. Biggert, of course, analyzed the taking a little bit of the money and equating that with taking and wiping out the entire fund.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Waxman).

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Mr. TIERNEY. Well, Mr. Speaker, I would have addressed my remarks to the Chair and taken the challenge if it had been anything other than an empty challenge and would have noted that Secretary Sebelius and the administration know clearly that those funds would have been diminished and that thousands of screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer would have been passed by, hundreds of thousands, in the administration's own analysis on that.

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