Then he, too, put his thumb on the political scales.
The Republican bill would cover the $6 billion cost by slicing into a fund to cover preventive health care costs. That expanded the struggle to include one of the Republicans' own campaign planks — the promise to repeal what they deride as "Obamacare," and failing that, to dismantle it piece by piece.
Charge gave way to counter-charge having little or nothing to do with student loans.
Democrats said the health care fund Republicans had targeted was evidence of a "war on women."
"Give me a break," protested Boehner on the House floor. Addressing Democrats, he said, "you may have already forgotten that several months ago you voted to cut $4 billion out of this fund to pay for the payroll tax cut."
By then, the White House weighed in with a veto threat, which House Republicans promptly ignored in passing its version of the measure on a near party-line vote of 215-195.
With that, Congress, its approval rating mired in the teens, went on a one-week vacation.
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Espo covers politics and Congress for The Associated Press
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