President Obama signed the Transportation bill on Friday, which is designed to help thousands of construction workers find work. It also prevents federal interest rates on student loans from increasing two-fold.
Without the new law, the interest rate on student loans would've jumped to 6.8%. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois), though, argued it would have saved taxpayers billions without a dramatic increase in monthly payments.
"Because getting back to the 6.8 interest rate for new student loan applicants will add about $7 a month eventually to their student loan payment. And I think they can pay an extra $7 a month to avoid $6 billion in debt," he said.
Walsh said he supported the transportation spending included in the same measure signed by the President today, but objected to what he called the Christmas Tree nature of the bill, which also included federal flood insurance.
"We pile bill after bill on top of one mega-bill. And we pass it. Republicans pledged not to do that. Look, I don't vote with my party and my leadership a lot. And that gets me in hot water with my party and my leadership," he said.
Walsh was in hot water with some this week for accusing Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot, of talking too much about the Iraq War wounds that cost both of her legs. Walsh expressed no regrets.
"I've called her a hero hundreds of times. She's the one who made an issue of this. And shame on her for doing that," he said.
On at least one issue, the conservative Walsh is actually to the left of Duckworth and President Obama. Walsh said he's changed his mind about the War in Afghanistan. He's now calling for all American troops to be brought back home immediately.