Student loan interest rates
“I find it absolutely bizarre, where the White House came out and said they supported kicking the can down the road for two years,” he said. “The House has passed legislation to fix the student loan impasse. We still need the Senate to show us they can do something.”
The Democratic sponsors of the Senate plan said they’ll look to compromise with Republicans on the matter before the end of the month, but they insisted on a two-year rate freeze so as to take up long-term reform in 2015, when federal higher-education policy is up for renewal.
If that plan goes forward, the sticking point would be cost — when Congress extended the current interest rates last year, it cost $6 billion. Democrats want to pay for the fix by raising taxes and closing loopholes, something Republicans have long opposed.
“We’ll start negotiating with Republicans to see if they’re willing to find some offset that we can agree on,” Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin said at a press conference. “Otherwise, we’ll work on some kind of compromise … something that will keep it at 3.4 percent.”
Democrats have said they’re interested in a long-term fix for student loan interest rates, but that there isn’t enough time to do it this month, especially with a handful of other tough proposals — immigration reform, the farm bill, etc. — already on the table.
“This is a big discussion, but right now we have something we have to do,” said Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a co-sponsor of the Democratic bill. “Right now, we’ve got to make sure these interest rates don’t double on the Stafford subsidized loans. That’s what we’re doing, that’s what this is about.”