The fate of Stafford student loan interest rates still hangs in the balance after the United States Senate rejected both the Republican and Democratic proposals to stop the interest rates on these loans from doubling on July 1.
Both bills would have extended the $6 billion interest rate cuts for another year.
The Democratic bill failed mostly on party lines, with only one Democrat, Jim Webb of Virginia, voting against the Democrats’ bill. The bill failed 51-43.
The GOP bill failed 34-62 with eight GOP Senators joining Senate Democrats to vote no.
The White House, which has recently taken an election year interest in college students’ problems, was quick to blame Republicans for the unresolved issue, however.
“With only 37 days left to stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, Senate Republicans still have not proven that they’re serious about resolving this problem,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney accused afterward, as reported by Politico.
Carney refused to acknowledge that Senate Democrats opted not to vote for the GOP version of the bill, which had already passed in the House of Representatives.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed out the White House’s hypocrisy, noting that the President hasn’t spent as much time coming up with a legislative solution to the issue as he has spent complaining about it.
“If the president’s got time to run around to late-night comedy shows and college campuses talking about this issue, then he can pick up the phone and work out a solution,” McConnell said, referring to Obama’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Republicans and conservatives have noted that the “looming crisis” Obama claims will occur if the student loan interest rate cut is not renewed is largely fictitious. Most borrowers will not be affected the interest rate increase and those that are will only see a $7 increase per month. Meanwhile, it will cost the federal government $6 billion a year to continue subsidizing those loans. Thus, many Republicans see any federal plan to extend the cuts as fiscally irresponsible.
The Senate is now out of session until Monday, June 4. Neither party announced whether or not it will revisit the issue after next week’s recess.