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Members Act on Student Loans

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama waves to students at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., on Friday while speaking on the interest rates of federal student loans.

Senate Democratic aides said they expect at least seven GOP Senators to vote to move forward with the bill because Republicans are likely to offer the House offset as an amendment. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has introduced a Senate companion to the House measure.

A GOP aide said a deal is already in sight, noting the House’s preventive care fund offset was part of the pay-for in the February deal to extend the current payroll tax cut through the end of the year. “The wheels are greased,” the aide said. “Let’s get this done.”

But regardless of the Senate vote, the White House plans to keep up its full-court press on the issue.  

“This should be a no-brainer,” Obama said Friday. Obama pointed to the vote in the Senate, and said he’s prepared to work with Senate Republicans to find a compromise. He also framed the issue as part of his larger battle against the GOP on raising taxes for the wealthy.

“They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers. ... And they want you to pay an extra $1,000 a year for college,” he ripped.

Obama will hold a conference call Monday touting the issue, and Vice President Joseph Biden will address the issue at an event Thursday at the White House.

The administration also is going to deploy Cabinet officials across the country to highlight the issue. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will be holding events in Phoenix, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio; Small Business Administrator Kim Mills will hold an event in Denver; and Trade Representative Ron Kirk will go to Dallas. Other top officials will fan out to Massachusetts, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas, according to the White House.

Obama also said he would ask Congress this week to do more on jobs after Friday’s disappointing unemployment report. Senior administration officials have previously said Obama will keep pushing pieces of his American Jobs Act that were largely rejected by Republicans last year. Senate Democrats are expected to move one piece ­— a tax cut for businesses that hire new workers or buy new equipment — this month.

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