GOP Rep. Berates Student Concerned About Pell Grant Cuts, Tells Her To Join The Military

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"GOP Rep. Berates Student Concerned About Pell Grant Cuts, Tells Her To Join The Military"

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)

To avoid a government shutdown at the end of 2011, Republicans succeeded in their campaign to cut the federal Pell Grant program by effectively kicking up to 100,000 low-income students off the rolls.

Last week, Arkansas constituent Kelly Eubanks, a college student who has two jobs and two children, confronted her Congressman, Rep. Steve Womack (R), at a town hall meeting over his attack on the program she now relies on. But instead of any explanation, Womack lashed out at Eubanks, telling her to pay her own way by “joining the military” like he did. After refusing to answer her question, he finally just asked her to “be quiet and listen.” Blue Arkansas reports:

According to Kelly and a handful of other witnesses, Womack happily retorted that it wasn’t the federal government’s job to pay for education (he’s doing this in a college town mind you) and then quickly added that he paid for his education by joining the military, apparently suggesting that the mom of two do the same and totally oblivious I guess to the fact that it was, in fact, the federal government that paid for his education then. Well Womack tried to skirt the rest of Ms. Eubanks question and she proceeded to try and get him to address the discrepancy she pointed out. Well at this point, according to Kelly and several other people that were in the room, Womack blew a gasket.

He skirted the rest of my question and I called him out on it.. he ended up getting pissed off.. and screaming at me.. “are you going to be quiet and listen”, [Eubanks said.]

According to Kelly, some of his aides came up and tried to get the mike from her, but she held her ground and kept her cool, insisting her congressman answer her question.

Watch KHBS news coverage of the town hall:

The irony here, as Campus Progress’ Emily Wood notes, is that Womack actually attended college on taxpayer money by joining the National Guard. But instead of acknowledging that fact, he dodged the issue and had the mike taken away from Eubanks. Eubanks attended the town hall with the hopes of understanding Womack’s view. “I thought maybe meeting him and asking him why he’d vote to hurt students but protect Big Oil interests, face to face, would get me a real answer,” she told the Arkansas Times. “I really thought maybe he could explain it somehow. I did not think he was a heartless or arrogant person going in to this, but I definitely do now.”

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