The Washington Times - March 19, 2010, 07:05AM

Republicans are going after Rep. Earl Pomeroy, a North Dakota Democrat, who is currently undecided on the health care bill, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, for possibly setting up a sweetheart deal in the student loan provision of the health care bill in exchange for his support on the legislation. House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, sent out a press release Thursday saying the following:

“This ‘Bismarck Bank Job’ provision looks like exactly the sort of backroom deal that makes the American people hate Washington and the whole process that has led to this massive, awful government takeover of our health care. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the only House Member from the State of North Dakota has some questions to answer. Did he know about this provision?  Was it inserted in an attempt to secure his support for the health care bill?

Democratic Leaders owe the American people an explanation: Did they cut a backroom deal on this issue?  What other backroom deals have they cut in their eleventh-hour push to jam through a bill that the American people have soundly rejected? The American people want answers, and they deserve the truth.” 

The education section of the bill is the student loan provision, whereby private lenders will no longer have the authority to handle student loans. Instead, all student loans would be dealt with solely through the federal government. However, within the CBO cost estimate for the education portion of the health care bill (at the top table of Page 2 or Section 2213 of the actual language), there appears to be a questionable guaranteed lending circumstance that goes exclusively to the Bank of North Dakota.


The Democrats’ health care bill allows “State-Owned Banks” to be exempt from the government’s student loan takeover. (H.R. 4872):

“Section 2213. Agreements with StateOwned Banks. This section amends Part D of Title IV to direct the Secretary to enter into an agreement with an eligible lender for the purpose of providing Federal loan insurance on student loans made by stateowned banks.”

It should be noted that the Bank Of North Dakota is the “Only State-Owned Bank In The Nation.” A number of Democrats have already spoken out on the deals that have been cut in order to secure votes from lawmakers, and Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, put House members on notice yesterday saying,:

“If you voted no and you vote yes, and you lose your election, and you think any nomination to a federal position isn’t going to be held in the Senate, I’ve got news for you. It’s going to be held.

Number two is, if you get a deal, a parochial deal for you or your district, I’ve already instructed my staff and the staff of seven other senators that we will look at every appropriations bill, at every level, at every instance, and we will outline it by district, and we will associate that with the buying of your vote. So, if you think you can cut a deal now, and it not come out until after the election, I want to tell you that isn’t going to happen. And be prepared to defend selling your vote in the House.”

Mr. Pomeroy’s North Dakota district was won by John McCain in 2008. The Bismarck Tribune has already urged Mr. Pomeroy to vote “no” on the bill. Rep. Pomeroy, however, did vote “yes” on the House health care bill in November. He currently remains undecided.