FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“This is what Eastern Washington has come to expect from Lisa Brown,” said Jared Powell, Spokesman for Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “Despite her being fully aware of her role in shifting the cost of higher education onto the backs of students, her new tactic is just to deny it and hope no one checks her on it. If this is what Lisa Brown does during a campaign, how can we expect honesty from her in the House of Representatives?”
False Lisa Claim #1: “I’ve never voted to raise tuition”
Fact: Unfortunately, Lisa slashed budgets and then voted to lift the cap on how much tuition can be raised. Even though now she says she’s never voted to raise tuition, it’s clear that when this was happening, she knew well what she was doing. State funding decreases are inextricably linked to tuition increases, and as the Inlander explains, Lisa Brown knows that. As she admitted on TVWin 2012, “There’s no doubt that the state contribution to higher education has gone down down down and tuition has gone up up up.” (TVW Interview, 21:34-21:41)
False Lisa Claim #2: Cathy voted to cut Pell Grants
Fact: Cathy is a strong supporter of Pell Grants and has consistently voted for robust funding. She believes we need to ensure that the Pell Grant program remains a viable option since it is the largest source of federal grant aid for postsecondary students. She has also voted to allow for year round Pell Grants. Brown’s ad also overlooks important recent context:
- Just this fall, Cathy supported the FY 19 Appropriations bill (Conference Report to H.R. 6157) that increased the maximum Pell award by to $6,195. This bill was signed into law at the end of September.
- The FY18 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 1625), which CMR supported, increased the maximum Pell Grant award to $6,095, by a combination of discretionary and mandatory funding.
- The FY17 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 244), which CMR supported, increased the maximum award to $5,920. The bill also included a provision to expand access to Pell Grants year round, providing additional flexibility and options to students.
- The FY16 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2029; 2015), which CMR supported, provided $22.5 billion in discretionary funds for the program in FY16, ensuring funding for the maximum award.
False Lisa Claim #3: Cathy voted to raise interest rates on student loans
Fact: This attack is false. In 2014, Cathy voted for a bipartisan agreement (H.R. 1911; Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act; 2014), signed into law by President Obama, that provided certainty to student borrowers and prevented interest rates for federally-subsidized Stafford loans from doubling. The law ensured that the unsustainable costs of federally-subsidized Stafford loans (which were set to rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent) would be more certain and based on market conditions instead of artificially determined by the federal government, which would result in students paying less than the scheduled increase to 6.8 percent. The agreement locked in the rate once the loan was disbursed to the student (like a fixed rate mortgage) and capped the interest rate at 8.25 percent.
False Lisa Claim #4: Cathy voted to tax student financial aid
Fact: In reality, Cathy made very clear during deliberations on the tax bill that she strongly opposed counting tuition waivers as income for tax purposes. Although this provision was in the original House-passed bill, which she supported in totality, she made clear to House leaders and those negotiating the final version of the bill that removing this provision was a top priority for her and that it should be removed, which it was. She then supported the final version of the tax bill that did not include this provision.
As the Spokesman-Review reported at the time: “McMorris Rodgers said Friday that while she supports the House bill overall, she doesn’t support counting tuition waivers as taxable income. She’s hopeful the provision would be eliminated in negotiations before final passage. ‘That’s one of those provisions that I prefer what the Senate is proposing,’ she said.”