Van Hollen: Let’s Stay Here Until we Get it Done
Washington, DC – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, appeared on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. to discuss House Republicans’ decision to leave Washington next week without addressing jobs, the transportation authorization bill, or the impending rise in student loan interest rates. Video of the interview is available here and the transcript is below.
MSNBC’S CHRIS JANSING: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, always good to see you, good morning.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Good to see you Chris, good morning.
JANSING: Speaker Boehner’s spokesman returned the volley releasing this statement. I am going to read it to you.
“Representative Pelosi’s letter should be addressed to her Democratic colleagues running the U.S. Senate, who are still blockading a host of jobs bills passed by the House with bipartisan support. We are happy to forward her note to them.”
Congressman, is the problem with the Senate?
VAN HOLLEN: Well Chris, the Senate’s going to be here next week. They’re planning to be in session. And what Leader Pelosi is saying is the House should stay in session. We shouldn’t be going on a break. We shouldn’t be taking a vacation until we get this important work done.
There are three things that have to be done. One is the transportation authorization bill. This is the funds to invest in our national infrastructure on transportation, it expires at the end of this month if we can’t get an agreement. Now, the Senate has a bipartisan agreement. In other words, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate agreed to move forward. We’ve simply said to Speaker Boehner, let’s vote on that bill. Let’s just have a vote in the House.
On July 1st, if we don’t act, student interest rates, interest rates on student loans, will double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. We need to stay here until we fix that problem, so that we don’t see students take that big hit.
We also need to move forward on the President’s jobs bill, which has been sitting in the House of Representatives since last September.
JANSING: Well, let me ask you specifically about the student loan increase because John Boehner and Eric Cantor say that the President should cancel his trip today to Las Vegas, and instead work with Congress to make sure that this student loan extension gets done. And they’re saying that kind of in response to what Leader Pelosi had to say about Congress not going into recess. Is that a fair comparison?
VAN HOLLEN: No, for this reason – the White House has been fully engaged. The President can work on these issues. But in order to get the student loan issue resolved, the Congress has to vote, I mean the Congress has to take action. The President can’t sign a bill until the bill gets to the President’s desk. The President has put forward lots of proposals on this issue. Our Republican colleagues have rejected them. But our point is this: let’s stay here and keep working next week until we resolve it. There may be differences. Obviously, there are. But the way to deal with them is not for the House of Representatives to take a break and get out of town. Let’s stay here until we get it done.
JANSING: All of this, of course, has implications for the national campaign. Let me ask you about the presidential election because I literally just got in my inbox a note from the Romney campaign. They say that in May they raised $76.8 million, almost $77 million, right after the Obama campaign had its best fund-raising ever, $60 million. So just right there an $18 million disparity. Is that worrisome for you?
VAN HOLLEN: I’m not worried about the disparity. There’s way too much money flowing into all of these races right now. The American people are going to be totally bombarded in these races. At the end of the day, it’s just important to focus on what these different candidates stand for. What are their issues?
When you look at what Mitt Romney is proposing, in terms of his budget and policies, they are policies that would benefit people like Mitt Romney and big hedge fund owners at the expense of everybody else. And we tried that for eight years – it was called the Bush Administration. It was a trickledown theory. The idea was, you give these big tax breaks to the very, very wealthy and it will lift all the boats. Well, a few yachts got lifted up but the boats all ran aground. I don’t think the American people want to go back to that. That’s what Mitt Romney’s proposing.
JANSING: Congressman Chris Van Hollen – it’s always good to have you on the program, thanks.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.