Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Laying Groundwork for Student Loan Fight

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

On Tuesday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) held an event in his district where he addressed a group of students that the nonprofit group CollegeTracks helped apply to college.

President Barack Obama visited three universities last week, where he urged Congress to extend the 2007 law that cut student loan rates. He plans to visit a Northern Virginia high school Friday “to speak with juniors and graduating seniors and their parents about the need to prevent interest rates on federal subsidized student loans from doubling July 1. While at the school, the president will hold a roundtable discussion with a group of seniors and their parents before delivering remarks to members of the junior and senior classes and many of their parents about the importance of their having a fair shot at an affordable higher education and the skills they need to find a good job,” according to the White House release announcing the event.

The Senate and the White House events are building up to a Senate test vote Monday evening on the Democratic bill.

If lawmakers don’t pass legislation to extend current law and keep the interest rate of Stafford loans as it is now, approximately 7.4 million students with federal student loans would see their interest rates double on July 1. That would mean the average student would pay an additional $1,000 in interest for each year that Congress allows the higher rate, according to the Department of Education.

Republicans have said Democrats are using the issue for political purposes, rather than seeking a solution both sides want.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Sunday predicted that Democrats and Republicans will be able to work together to pass legislation to avert the politically damaging increase in student loan interest rates.

“Democrats and Republicans have been working together to get this resolved and I believe that we will,” Boehner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“If the Senate wants to do a different pay-for that will be up to them, but we will have this issue resolved,” Boehner continued.

The Speaker went on to chastise the president for using student loans as a campaign issue and “picking a fight where there is no fight,” rather than trying to work with Republicans to try to find bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems.

“The president is getting some very bad advice from his campaign team,” Boehner said. “He is diminishing the presidency by picking fake fights, going after straw men every day.”

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