Student Loan Reform
Senators continue to work on a bipartisan deal to address federally subsidized student loan interest rates, which expire July 1. The long-term deal, which is expected to (1) peg the rates to the 10-year Treasury bill, (2) include a consolidated rate cap – something Democrats have called “non-negotiable,” and (3) lock in the initial rate for the life of the loan, represents a compromise between the White House, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats. With the Senate scheduled to recess the week of July 1, the chamber is expected to vote on the measure this week, as it faces pressure from House Republican leaders who passed their bill May 23. As such, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) delivered the weekly Republican address on Saturday, June 22 to urge President Obama and Senate Democrats to take action on a permanent fix to the student loan interest rate problem. After the chamber’s failure to pass legislation reauthorizing farm programs, it is still uncertain whether House Republicans will agree to the compromise, despite the Congressional Budget Office having scored the proposal to save $8.6 billion over 10 years.
With the House Education and the Workforce Committee having advanced its overhaul of No Child Left Behind last week, the chamber is likely to see floor action on the measure in the coming weeks. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Chairman and Ranking Member have committed to advancing a very different Senate measure so that a compromise can be reached through conference negotiation. However, a timetable for consideration on the Senate floor has yet to be established, and with the Administration offering a new round of ESEA flexibility last week, it is hardly pressuring Congress for a rewrite.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, June 25: The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing concerning the regulatory perspective of private student loans.
- Thursday, June 27: The House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled “School Meal Regulations: Discussing the Costs and Consequences for Schools and Students.”
- Wednesday, June 26 – Friday, June 28: The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will host the fourth annual EducationUSA Forum in Washington, D.C. College and university officials will have the opportunity to meet with State Department officials and EducationUSA regional experts to discuss strategies for helping international students study in the United States and for U.S. students to study abroad.