Joe Courtney: Force up-or-down vote on his legislation to lock in low student loan interest rates

June 13, 2013

With less than 10 legislative days to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7 million students and families, Congressman Joe Courtney today filed a procedural motion to force an up-or-down vote in the House to provide student debt relief to millions of student loan borrowers.

“Across the country today, rapidly-accumulating student loan debt threatens not just individual families but the underpinnings of our economic recovery,” said Congressman Courtney. “Rather than confronting the problem head-on, House Republicans offered a bill the Hartford Courant calls ‘Orwellian’ for claiming to help students, but, in fact, making the situation worse. We now have just 17 days to prevent this senseless rate increase. We owe it to our young people and the next generation of workers to get the job done.”

Courtney filed a discharge petition—a procedural motion that frees up a bill that has been blocked in a congressional committee—on H.R. 1595 today. Last month, House Republicans pushed through legislation to make college more expensive for students and families, forcing them into loans with skyrocketing interest rates that fluctuate year by year, further compounding the student debt crisis. The discharge petition would require a straightforward, up-or-down vote on the bill authored by Rep. Courtney to extend current low interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans for two years and allow Congress time to consider long-term, comprehensive solutions, to address both rising college costs and affordability, during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. At every corner, Republicans have blocked consideration of any bill that would provide student loan debt relief, insisting that students be taxed higher interest rates to pay down the deficit.

“House Democrats are doing everything we can to stand up for America’s students and families today,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The Republicans’ failure to act in a responsible way that protects students and families is inexcusable. Their bill is so bad that students would still be better off if rates were allowed to double in July. They aren’t solving the problem; they’re making it worse. I urge my colleagues to allow an up or down vote right away on a bill that stops the interest rate hike without harming students and their families. Time is short.”

If Congress fails to act by July 1, interest rates on subsidized students’ loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for millions of the neediest students. This year, and every year, Congress doesn’t act will cost a student borrower $1,000. Failure to act now will add $4.3 billion to students’ debt burden for next year’s loans alone. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), the bill that Republicans pushed through the House last month would increase student debt and leave students worse off than if these interest rates were allowed to double on July 1.

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