(AP) — Congressional Republicans are pushing to overhaul the government’s student loan program, as both Democrats and the GOP blame each
other for letting interest rates on the subsidized loans double last Monday.
In the weekly Republican radio address Saturday, congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas is pressing Senate Democrats to act on legislation that ties the rate to the financial markets, similar to a proposal from President Barack Obama. Senate Democrats unsuccessfully sought a two-year extension of the current 3.4 percent rate.
Jenkins tells students they deserve a more fair approach, one free of politics that allows students to take advantage of lower rates and have more peace of mind.
The White House predicts a deal will be reached before students return to school from their summer break.
Here is the full transcript of this week’s Republican address, presented by Jenkins:
“Hello, I’m Lynn Jenkins, Congresswoman from the Second District of Kansas and Vice-Chair of the House Republican Conference. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Independence Day.
The spirit of 1776 is fresh in our hearts this weekend. America is at its best when it lives up to the blessings our forebears pledged everything to secure. Their ideas have survived and thrived because every generation has worked hard to expand the pursuit of happiness and ensure our children are free to live a better life.
Today these essentials of the American Dream are at risk. Last week, I spoke with hundreds of college students who are concerned they won’t have the same opportunities their parents had. They find it hard to see beyond paying off their education, stretching to afford rent, and finding a job in this tough economy.
That’s why, over the last few months, Republicans made every effort to stop interest rates on some student loans from doubling, as they unnecessarily did on July 1st. For too long, politicians have been in charge of setting these rates, and we keep coming back to cliffs and deadlines like this one. Paying for college is difficult enough without all this uncertainty. I have two kids in college, I know how hard it can be.
So in the spring, when President Obama proposed letting the markets set interest rates instead, the Republican-led House passed a bill reflecting his plan. Republicans in the Senate came to the table with similar ideas. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats attacked the president’s plan, refused to work with us, and allowed this rate hike to take effect, leaving for the July 4th holiday without passing a solution.
Because of this inaction, millions of undergraduates who want to take out a subsidized Stafford loan are now being told they will have to pay an interest rate that’s double what they were expecting. That’s just not right.
You deserve a fairer approach, one free of politics that allows you to take advantage of lower rates and have more peace of mind. That’s what we’ve been working on. In the House, we haven’t just talked about it; we’ve actually passed it. Now we need the Democratic-controlled Senate to act.
On behalf of parents and students across the nation, I call on Senate Democrats to join with us and help pass bipartisan student loan reform when the Senate returns to work next week. And President Obama should do his part by urging his fellow Democrats in the Senate to work with us. We will not let up until they agree to do the right thing.
Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.”