Republicans block vote on Senate student-loan interest bill

Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held the line against an effort by the Democrats to extend the current interest rates on student loans at the expense of tax benefits enjoyed by certain small businesses.

The Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to shutdown the Republican filibuster with a 52-45 party-line vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted against the measure, so he could bring it up for a vote again.

Democrats did as McConnell predicted going into the vote and used it as an opportunity to present Republicans as being cold and heartless. Unless Congress passes an extension by June 31, interest rates on certain federally guaranteed student loans will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.

“In doing so, the GOP has once again turned its back on more than 7 million students who would pay an average of $1,000 in additional costs over the life of their loan if Congress fails to prevent this rate hike,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said in a statement. “The clock is ticking, and the time for political games is over.”

A study by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin found that the average student loan would experience an average of a $7 per month increase  in what they pay on their loans — hardly a crippling hardship.

McConnell accused the Democrats of playing election year politics during the Senate debate in an effort to get disillusioned college students who voted for President Obama in 2008 to show up at the polls for Democrats in November.

His words echo comments from a  May 7 Politico editorial where he wrote, “But in the short-term, Republicans are ready to offer temporary relief — just as we did for millions of working Americans earlier this year through an extension of the payroll tax holiday .

“Fearful that young people might start to realize the reason they need relief right now is because of the Obama economy, Democrats have turned the college loan issue into yet another fake election-year fight. The goal is to distract young people from the fact that they’re suffering disproportionately under this president’s policies.”

Send tips to John Rossomando  at jrossomando@redalertpolitics.com.

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