Will Student Loan Compromise Pit Dem Vs. Dem?
Alexander said the rate hike “is completely unnecessary and constitutes congressional malpractice by some Democratic senators who are stubbornly holding out for a short-term political fix that only helps a minority of students.”
Alexander said that the Senate should adopt instead a plan offered by a bipartisan group of six senators that “would save students billions of dollars in interest payments and cut rates nearly in half for all new undergraduate student loans.”
“Why should Congress adopt a short-term political fix that only helps 40 percent of students when there is an obvious permanent solution that will reduce interest rates for every one of the 18 million new loans that 11 million students will take out this year?” Alexander said.
He said the group of senators has united around a common idea similar to the one proposed by President Obama in his budget and passed by the House in May.
“If the United States is going to be competitive in the global economy, we must have the best educated workforce possible,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who serves on the Senate education committee. “We must encourage young people of all income levels to expand their educational opportunities, not make it harder.”
“Short term, Congress must extend the subsidized Stafford student loan program at 3.4 percent. Long term, at a time when higher education in this country is far more expensive than in any other country, the Higher Education Act must be overhauled so that higher education is affordable for every young person who has the ability and desire to continue their education,” Sanders said.
On the other side of the Hill, lawmakers also lambasted members of the other party for not willing to compromise.
“I am deeply troubled that Republicans in Congress could not find the will to act before the student loan interest rates doubled. It is outrageous that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans chose to allow student loan rates to double, rather than work with Democrats on a bipartisan solution to protect our nation’s students,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said.
In a statement, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) criticized Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the education and workforce committee, for failing to take timely action on a solution.
Miller announced Tuesday he would be seeking signatures from members of the committee to move forward the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 – a Senate proposal that would extend the current reduced interest rate for subsidized loans for one year.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to sign this petition so that we can immediately roll back the rate increase on 7.2 million students while Congress works to find a long-term solution to the student debt crisis," Miller said.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) said Saturday “Democratic inaction” caused student loan interest rates to increase.
"Because of this inaction, millions of undergraduates who want to take out a subsidized Stafford loan are now being told they will have to pay an interest rate that’s double what they were expecting," Jenkins said. "That’s just not right."
“It's time for Obama to step in and urge Senate Democrats to back House Republicans' student rate proposal,” Jenkins said. "And President Obama should do his part by urging his fellow Democrats in the Senate to work with us. We will not let up until they agree to do the right thing.”
If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement, the average student borrower will have to pay back roughly $2600 more than under the previous rate, according to data provided by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.
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