Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Senate Blocks Dueling Student Loan Bills

The Senate filibustered two partisan bills today designed to prevent student loan rates from doubling on July 1.

Senate Republicans offered a bill, which only garnered 40 “yes” votes, that would have tied student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate plus 3 percentage-points. Fifty-seven senators voted against the measure, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Delaware Democrat Thomas R. Carper voted with Republicans in favor of the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to Coburn’s bill. Five Republicans — Sens. Michael D. Crapo and Jim Risch, both of Idaho, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania — voted against the motion.

The Democrats’ legislation would have extended current law for two years while paying for the lower student loan rates by closing certain tax loopholes. It failed to garner the necessary 60 votes on a 51-46 vote.

Meanwhile, the White House has threatened to veto a House bill that did not lock the rates of loans at the time they were acquired.

Congress now has three weeks to come up with a solution, otherwise the student loan rate will jump in July to 6.8 percent from the current level of 3.4.

“Let’s sit down between now and July 1 and come up with a bipartisan solution once and for all,” Sen. Richard M. Burr said before votes on the Democrats’ bill began. The North Carolina Republican was a co-sponsor of the GOP bill.

Democrats and Republicans planned to hold back-to-back news conferences mid-day Thursday prove their political points. As we reported earlier this week, Senate Democrats love the politics of the student loan debate almost as much as, if not more than, the actual policy.

Last summer, Congress also pushed the student loan debate to its July deadline.

UPDATE: At a press conference after the votes, Democratic leaders could not specify what they did not like about the Senate GOP alternative. Reid said that the White House would veto “the Republican bill,” which is only partially true. The administration said it would veto the House Republican bill, primarily on the grounds that the House bill would not lock in rates for the life of the loan. When pressed by WGDB about the Senate GOP alternative, which does lock in rates, Reid said such a claim was Republican spin. It’s clear the two sides, at least on the Senate end of the Capitol, are closer than they appear on the issue. But again, Democrats think the student loan debate makes for good politics, so for now, conflating the two bills suits their purposes.

  • Theodora Crawford

    No more tuition hikes…we need more tuition support. Education should be the most important cornerstone of our national defense policy. Shame on both houses for fiddling while we burn. Support education from preschool to graduate school…or move over for those who do know what’s important (and hint: it’s NOT military might).

    If you have some free time, read up on Chinese history…especially the 15th century (and learn why Columbus did not discover America). Major lessons to be learned. Start with 1421 and 1434 by Menzies.

    • http://www.facebook.com/raymond.brytan Raymond Brytan

      In my ignorance about what the carat symbol meant, I hit it by mistake and gave your comment a negative vote. I immediately corrected the situation by at least balancing my negative vote with a favorable one. You are “right on” as far as I’m concerned. That students should be penalized while “Big Bucks” continues its free ride does not seem fair at all.

      • Theodora Crawford

        Thanks

    • Dieter Johnson

      We pay our professors abundantly, they need to give us better qualified graduates. Freez university paraises to keep tuition down as well as gov’t aide.

  • Dieter Johnson

    1% over fed rate for student loans is the only acceptable rate! We don’t need to use our students to raise money. We need to use our monet to raise students. No politics needed here. Keep rates downn . Don’t charge more than 1 point on student loans.

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