Reid Remarks On Student Loans

Last month, Senate Republicans rejected Democrats’ plan to freeze student loan interest rates at current levels for two years without adding a penny to the deficit. Because of this Republican obstruction, loan rates doubled on July 1.

But if either the legislation passed by House Republicans or the plan proposed by Senate Republicans became law, student loan rates would more than double over the next few years, as interest rates increase.

Tomorrow the Senate will vote on whether to even begin debate on our plan to keep loan rates low for an additional year… I hope Senate Republicans won’t block a second common-sense plan to invest in our economy by keeping college affordable.

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding Democrats’ plan to keep student loan interest rates low. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

In this country, a quality education is the surest path to the American Dream. But college has never been more expensive and further out of reach for American families. That’s why it’s critical that we keep interest rates low on federal student loans, so more promising students can realize their dream of higher education.

But last month, Senate Republicans rejected Democrats’ plan to freeze student loan interest rates at current levels for two years without adding a penny to the deficit. Because of this Republican obstruction, loan rates doubled on July 1 – piling $1,000 more debt on more than 7 million students.

Republicans are instead pushing a plan to balance the budget on the backs of struggling students. But if either the legislation passed by House Republicans or the plan proposed by Senate Republicans became law, student loan rates would more than double over the next few years, as interest rates increase.

Speaker Boehner says the House has acted and the ball is in the Senate’s court. But Democrats can’t support a plan that would be worse for students than doing nothing at all.

We have to take action. The rising price of college means too many young people are deferring higher education. And it has saddled many who do get a degree with unsustainable debt – debt that causes them to delay buying their first home, put off having children or give up on starting a business. Americans have more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, and the average graduate owes more than $25,000. In fact, Americans have more student loan debt than credit card debt. They simply can’t afford to pile on even more.

Democrats will continue the fight to keep student loan rates low, and hold back the rising price of education. Tomorrow the Senate will vote on whether to even begin debate on our plan to keep loan rates low for an additional year.

We’ve made changes to our proposal in an effort to meet Senate Republicans in the middle while protecting students. Our plan shortens the extension from two years to one year. And it still doesn’t add to the deficit. Instead it closes an obscure tax loophole that allows a few wealthy individuals to avoid paying taxes on inherited retirement accounts.

I hope Senate Republicans won’t block a second common-sense plan to invest in our economy by keeping college affordable.

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