Morning Action: Senate Focuses On Student Loans This Week
STUDENT LOANS. This week the Senate will be focused on student loans with Democrats trying to prevent student loan rates from doubling (sub. req’d):
Senate Democrats’ top priority this week will be trying to reverse a doubling of federal student loan interest rates that took effect July 1 and ending a months long impasse that could affect 7 million students who take out the loans each year.
Reid will try to schedule a vote on a plan (S 1238) by Democrats Jack Reed of Rhode Island andKay Hagan of North Carolina that would extend the old fixed rate of 3.4 percent for one year to give Congress more time to negotiate a long-term proposal tied to market rates. The Reed-Hagen plan is supported by 34 Democrats and would offset the $4.25 billion cost of the rate extension by changing the tax treatment of certain inherited IRAs and 401(k)s.
We’re watching to see whether the effort attracts any Republican votes, or if the GOP stands firm behind a competing plan that would peg all newly issued loans to the Treasury Department’s 10-year borrowing rate — plus 1.85 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized undergraduate Stafford loans, 3.4 percent more for graduate Stafford loans.
Heritage has noted that according to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, even if student loan rates were prevented from doubling, it would lower their monthly payments by an average of only $7.
IMMIGRATION. The House will likely consider a step-by-step approach to immigration reform during July, according to a memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) (sub. req’d):
“The House may begin consideration of the border security measures that have been passed by the Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees and begin reviewing other immigration proposals,” the internal memo obtained by CQ Roll Call says.
The memo to House Republicans also says Cantor looks forward to the special conference meeting on July 10 on “how to fix broken our broken immigration system” [sic].
Heritage recently outlined important questions we should be asking our representatives about immigration reform and laid out the real answers we should be listening for.
OBAMACARE. Heritage has outlined 12 of Obamacare’s implementation failures:
Last week, the Obama Administration attempted to spin its announcement of a one-year delay in Obamacare’s employer mandate as an effort to implement the law “in a careful, thoughtful manner.” Don’t be fooled. Even Democrats have admitted the law has turned into a massive “train wreck,” with delays, glitches, and problems aplenty. Here are a dozen more Obamacare implementation failures.
Read the whole blog here.
FARM BILL. It is unclear exactly what farm policy will look like or how it will be revised in a potential farm bill, but House Republicans are still pushing to separate food stamps from the farm bill. It appears House leadership wants to act on the bill in July and pass a farm bill before members leave for August recess (sub. req’d):
Cantor has privately been pushing to separate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, from the farm provisions, in a bid to pick up votes from conservatives. According to the Congressional Budget Office, SNAP accounts for $743.9 billion of the estimated $972.3 billion cost of the House bill over the next 10 years.
“Cantor believes the best path now is to move forward with a bill that has 218 Republican votes since Democrats proved they cannot be trusted to work in good faith, and that path may be splitting up the bill,” a GOP aide told CQ Roll Call last week.
To be clear, the House should start over and pursue real, free-market reforms; simply holding separate votes on failed policy is nothing more than a different path to the same failed policies