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April 19, 2014

Posts in "student loans"

January 28, 2014

For Senate Democrats, No Credit for Wage Proposal From Obama

In September, 15 Senate Democrats put pen to paper to urge President Barack Obama to issue an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10. On Tuesday, they’ll get exactly what they wanted from Obama — except for any recognition of their efforts.

Of the 15 lawmakers on the letter, championed by Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., four senators are up for re-election in 2014: Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

Budget Vote 18 121713 445x271 For Senate Democrats, No Credit for Wage Proposal From Obama

Sanders, right, spearheaded the letter to Obama. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

And though Democrats in the White House and in Congress have been touting a stronger relationship than ever heading into Tuesday night’s State of the Union, there was some residual frustration that the White House apparently didn’t consider mentioning the letter or the senators in its announcement of the policy change. Democratic aides approached for this story did not want to be quoted on the record about senators’ displeasure, largely out of worry they would upset administration officials.

“Since when does the White House give credit to other Democrats?” one Senate aide quipped.

When asked by Roll Call whether he was frustrated that the White House didn’t mention the group of Democratic senators and their push for higher wages, Sanders smiled a wide grin, then paused.

Full story

July 23, 2013

Democrats Grudgingly Accept Student Loan Deal, for Now

harkin 045 050713 445x305 Democrats Grudgingly Accept Student Loan Deal, for Now

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the student loan endgame neared, Democrats grumbled about the budget rules that make the bipartisan package work.

With an extra push from the White House, however, the bill seemed on track for passage.

“We’re going to enjoy it now and pay later,” Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed said, citing the Congressional Budget Office determination that the deal announced last week would backload higher interest rates in later years. ”The cost of fixing it goes up with each year.”

This manner of accounting is nothing new. The formula used to calculate payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients always assumes a huge cut in payments to providers in future years, a budgeting debacle that’s come to be blocked through the stopgap known as the “doc fix.”

Full story

Obama, McConnell Push Student Loan Compromise

McConnell 24 071813 445x298 Obama, McConnell Push Student Loan Compromise

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

It’s an understatement to say President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell aren’t exactly kindred spirits, but on Tuesday the two men were in sync on a compromise student loan proposal opposed by key Senate Democrats.

Obama and the Kentucky Republican urged Senate passage of a bipartisan student loan compromise reached last week that’s been blasted by the left for increasing interest rates on students.

The White House circulated a fact sheet touting the proposal about an hour after McConnell made remarks supporting the plan on the Senate floor. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to participate in a conference call with reporters to tout the plan, as part of a full-court press that comes the same day that McConnell’s University of Louisville Cardinals basketball team visits the White House.

Full story

July 19, 2013

Democrats Try Hardball on the Vanilla Issues of Legislating

Senate Democrats and the White House are striking an aggressive tone on some bread-and-butter issues after successfully playing “nuclear” hardball to confirm President Barack Obama’s executive appointees.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his leadership team appeared before the cameras with Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, the group had a clear message: Democrats were going to be Democrats, seeking to move forward on funding for health, education, infrastructure and other domestic programs.

They also said that while they looked forward to negotiating through regular order, they want to avoid getting dragged into the same sort of crisis negotiation that’s been a hallmark of recent years.

“What we want to do, and certainly we have a real strong leader of our Appropriations Committee, we want to do appropriation bills, and we are not going to be stampeded into their sending us a [continuing resolution] and we take it at all costs,” Reid said. “We’re not going to do that.”

Full story

July 17, 2013

Student Loan Deal Takes Shape, but Harkin Blamed for Delay

A bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative agreement to permanently fix federal student loan rates Wednesday evening, following a day of frustration from Republicans and moderate Democrats with what they viewed as liberal slow-walking of a potential deal.

Just a day after being urged by President Barack Obama at the White House to forge a compromise, Senators met twice in the Capitol on Wednesday to discuss legislation to fix student loan rates after Congress let a one-year extension of the subsidized Stafford loan rate expire and double on July 1.

The first meeting was Democrats-only in the afternoon with more than a half dozen senators attending, but it did not include Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, according to a source familiar with negotiations. A second, bipartisan meeting later in the evening in the leadership suite of Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., ended with negotiators cautiously optimistic they could move forward on a plan, especially with what they believed was Obama’s blessing.

Of all the senators involved in talks on the issue, it has been Harkin who has been most reluctant to sign off on an agreement. As CQ Roll Call has previously reported, even though the White House has said it does not want to raise money from students to pay down the deficit, current law and the framework the administration put forward in its 2014 budget does just that. Full story

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