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July 08, 2013

House Republicans try to pressure Senate Dems, White House on student loan rates

House Speaker John Boehner spoke on the Capitol steps today with nine rows of college students lined up behind him, saying the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are to blame for higher student loan rates.

"It's time for the president to lead. It's time for him to bring Senate Democrat leaders together and develop a solution," Boehner said in a short press conference. He said Reid should have a vote on a bipartisan plan proposed in the Senate (details on it here) that's similar to the bill the House has passed. Both would peg student loan interest rates to the federal government's 10-year Treasury note rate.

Congress in recent years has set the rates. A one-year extension of the 3.4 percent rate for subsidized federal student loans expired, and the rate increased to 6.8 percent on July 1. The House student loan plan would let the rates go up until they hit a cap (details here).

Reid today said on the Senate floor that the House plan would reduce the deficit "on the backs of struggling students." And he said that as interest rates rise, student loan rates would go up as well.

Reid plans a vote in the Senate on Wednesday on a bill that would keep the interest rate at 3.4 percent for another year. It would be retroactive to include any loans made since the rates went up.

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