Congress Returns Facing Student Loan Rates, Highway Funding

Monday, 18 Jun 2012 09:56 AM

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Congress returns to work this week facing contentious issues that could reverberate in the November elections. Among issues on the agenda is the interest rate on student loans and funding for highway and bridge construction, The Washington Post reported.

Interest rates on federally subsidized student loans are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, on July 1. On that same date, a short-term extension of the highway bill will expire. House and Senate members have been working for weeks on a compromise $109 billion highway funding bill.

The talks seem to be stalled over House GOP demands to include approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline in the measure. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has already raised the possibility of another six-month extension of the old measure, the Post reported.

On the student loan issue, both sides have said they agree on keeping the loan rate down and they are keenly aware that letting the rate rise would be politically dangerous. Both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney concur on a freeze as do House and Senate leaders, the Post reported.
However, the two sides have yet to agree on how to pay the $6 billion it will cost. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said, according to the Post, “This is going to happen. Both presidential candidates want it to happen. It will happen.”

However, he predicted it will be “done in a way that’s terrible policy for our country.”


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