During today’s weekly Republican address, House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) urged President Obama to demonstrate leadership in the student loan interest rate debate, and encouraged the Senate to take action on the long-term, market-based solution students and families need.
“Our students deserve better,” Chairman Kline said. “We’re in this predicament because politicians put themselves in charge of setting interest rates, guaranteeing exactly this type of down-to-the-wire uncertainty for students and their families. What we need is a long-term solution that gets Washington out of the business of setting rates altogether.”
Watch the address:
The transcript of Congressman Kline’s remarks is below:
Hello, I’m John Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
As you may know, millions of student-loan borrowers could soon see their interest rates double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This rate hike, which will take effect on July 1 if nothing is done, would apply to new subsidized Stafford loans issued to undergraduates. With time running out, the House of Representatives is the only chamber of Congress that has acted to solve this problem.
Our students deserve better. We’re in this predicament because politicians put themselves in charge of setting interest rates, guaranteeing exactly this type of down-to-the-wire uncertainty for students and their families. What we need is a long-term solution that gets Washington out of the business of setting rates altogether.
Fortunately, President Obama agrees, and in his budget, he offered a plan for long-term reform by tying interest rates to the market. Heartened by that proposal, Republicans put together a similar measure – the Smarter Solutions for Students Act – and the House passed it last month, weeks before the deadline.
But Senate Democrats have actively blocked the president’s plan and refuse to consider ours. In fact, they have yet to pass a solution of any kind. If I didn’t know any better, I would say they are content to let rates double.
Still, Republicans have pressed ahead in good faith, and what we need to move forward now is more leadership from President Obama. This week, Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to the president asking him to step in. I myself have reached out to my Senate colleagues, and am urging members of the Obama administration to take action.
Because of our efforts, there are finally signs of progress toward a bipartisan plan on a long-term, market-based solution, but we need to finish the job – and do so soon.
This 11th-hour scrambling is a perfect demonstration of why we need to take the politics out of student loans once and for all.
We should now seize the opportunity before us. I urge President Obama to get engaged so we can stop this rate hike and deliver the kind of long-term solution our students and their families deserve.