WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today opposed a GOP proposal that held student loan rates hostage to the GOP’s misguided attempt to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Himes cosponsored legislation (H.R. 3826) that holds the rates at their current level without eliminating funding for childhood immunizations and women’s cancer screenings.

“Yes, we must keep student loan rates from increasing, and yes we should fund standard cancer screenings for women who can’t afford them, but it’s a false choice to pit those items against each other on a balance sheet,” Himes said. “We will not solve our nation’s problems without genuine bipartisanship, but time and time again, House Republicans take hostages when they should be shaking hands.”

Without legislative action, the loan rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. This would cost Connecticut students who rely on Stafford loans each an average of $807 extra per year. H.R. 3826 would avoid this rate increase by extending the 3.4 percent interest rate for another year. With 73,718 student borrowers in Connecticut, this amounts to $59,541,804 every year in lost money for the state.

“Access to higher education can’t be a luxury—it is an economic imperative and the best way to increase opportunity for every student, no matter where they live or what their family’s financial situation,” Himes said. “We will never compete with China, India, and the other nations around the world unless everyone who is ready for and wants to go to college can pursue higher education. We must act now to keep college loan rates low.”