The White House is threatening to veto a plan put forth by House Republicans to reduce student loan interest rates by pulling money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a funding stream set aside by the Affordable Care Act to support preventative health initiatives across the country.
"Unfortunately, rather than finding common ground on a way to pay for this critical policy, H.R. 4628 includes an attempt to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created to help prevent disease, detect it early, and manage conditions before they become severe," the White House said in a statement on Friday.
"Women, in particular, will benefit from this Prevention Fund, which would provide for hundreds of thousands of screenings for breast and cervical cancer. This is a politically-motivated proposal and not the serious response that the problem facing America’s college students deserves. If the President is presented with H.R. 4628, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
While Republicans and Democrats agree that it is crucial to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent, as they are set to do on July 1, the two parties have proposed very different ways of paying for that loss of revenue, estimated at $6 billion.
Democrats would close a tax loophole they have dubbed the "Gingrich/Edwards Loophole," which allows millionaires to avoid paying Medicare taxes. Republicans want to eliminate the preventative health fund, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called a "slush fund" on Wednesday.
In response to the White House's veto threat on Friday, a spokesman for Boehner accused President Barack Obama of using the student loan issue for political gain.
“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 Brendan Buck. "It’s a simple as this: Republicans are acting to help college students and the president is now getting in the way."