Floor Updates

McConnell, Reid, Alexander, Harkin, Reed

Student Loan bill (S. 2343)

May 24 2012

03:49 PM

Senator McConnell: (3:34 PM)
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "We're in a rather ridiculous process waiting for our friends to pass a process that will actually pass, when we've got one if front of us. We've wasted nearly two weeks on this student loan issue for no good reason. Neither I nor the ranking member have heard a word from the Democrats on how they propose to resolve the issue and actually prevent the interest rate from rising. As we learned earlier this week the president doesn't seem to even talk to his committee chairmen anymore. All of this suggests that the white house doesn't really want to solve this problem, that it would rather allow these rates to rise so we can run around all summer pointing our finger at those Republicans in the I'd like to believe that's not the case. We had chance to talk to the President about this and other issues last week at white house. I'm convinced that he'd like to get a solution. Yet the fact of the matter is, all he'd have to do is just simply pick up the phone and tell the democratic leadership here that he'd like to get this done, and I'm pretty confident that we could work it out. Unfortunately, we can't just wait around hoping the president is going to pick up the phone. College students can't wait either. They want us to resolve the issue now, and I know we can. So to move the ball forward, I would say to my colleague, the majority leader, if he agrees with me that Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi just did a good job of coming up with a bipartisan solution to this FDA bill, I'm confident that they could do the same thing on the student loan issue. They are the chairman and the ranking member of the committee that over sees student loan legislation. I have a lot of confidence in their ability to do it."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • Following the completion of the two scheduled votes on the Student Loan bill, the next order of business be a Harkin-Enzi bill dealing with the issue of the current student loan rate, provided further that no Motions to Proceed to other items be in order, unless agreed to by both leaders (Reid objected).

Senator Reid: (3:37 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "We've all heard of a reverse engineering. What we've just heard is reverse reasoning. This is one of the most interesting things I have heard that makes no sense. We've been trying to get on this bill for weeks. The Republicans have refused to allow us to get on the bill. Student loan issue is important. We should already have completed this and had we been allowed to get on the bill. But we weren't allowed to get on the bill. We were faced with one of our many fables, scores of them - with one of our many filibusters, scores of them. Not one, two, three, or four - scores of them. This is another example of them stopping us from legislating on a bill. In our to come here and say, we could have been doing something ... You my friend knows the rules of this Senate as well as I do. And he knows this suggestion is absurd."

Senator Alexander: (3:38 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "On July 1 for 7 million students getting new loans to go to college, the rate for interest will go from 3.4% to 6.8%. This is an amendment to get a result. This is the House-passed bill. President Obama says he wants to freeze the rate for a year. Governor Romney says he wants to freeze the rate for a year. The House of Representatives has voted to freeze the rate for a year. A vote "yes" on the House-passed bill will permit us to send it to the President and he signs it and we solve the problem."

Senator Harkin: (3:39 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "While appreciate the compliments he and the Minority leader has in Senator Enzi's and my ability to get things done, what they are that we totally end, totally eliminate all the of the prevention and wellness money that we have out there in the wellness fund. What would this do? We got vaccinations for children, immunizations, smoking cessation programs, colorectal screening, diabetes prevention, breast cancer screening, all funded by this prevention and wellness fund. None one of them would be funded from that fund if that amendment passed. So the choice is very clear on the two amendments that we have coming up. We can either vote to close a tax loophole that allows wealthy tax dodgers not to pay their fair share of taxes - we can close that loophole and keep the interest rates 3.4%. Or, as the republicans want to do, totally eliminate the wellness and prevention fund, and he the money that we're putting into diabetes prevention, breast cancer, colorectal screening, all the things I mentioned. I don't think the choice could be more clear to the American people about the direction we ought to go. Close the tax loophole. Keep the prevention fund in there. Keep our people healthy."

Senator Alexander: (3:40 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "The other side have their usual solution to any problem - let's put some more taxes on the small business men and women. We have a better way to pay for this bill. We'll take some of the savings that the congressional budget office said that our friends found when they took over the student health program in the health care bill, instead of giving the students the benefit of those savings, they spent it on government. They spent $8.3 billion on the health care bill. So we'll give back to the students enough known pay for this freezing of the rate. We won't tax the small business people. We'll have a little left covered and reduce the debt. Then we can send our bill to the house, they'll pass it like that, send it to the president and the problem is solved."

Senator Reed: (3:41 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "The Republican's proposal goes right to the heart of health prevention. It will deny us the chance to ban the proverbial health care cost curve. If we do not control those costs, we will be in a fiscal disaster. That measure they're proposing does not make sense. We have proposed to close a tax loophole that has been described by the inspector general for the tax administration as a multibillion-dollar employment tax shelter. We have restricted it to the people who are receiving over $200,000 a year. This is not small business men and women. This is not the corner hardware store. These are lobbyists, these are lawyers who have craftily used subchapter S-corporations to avoid paying payroll taxes This is trying to find a loophole which has been criticized by the right as well as the left to pay for and ensure that we do not double the interest rates on students. I can't think of a clearer choice. Reject the Republican proposal, accept our proposal. Do not allow student interest rates to rise on July 1, as they're scheduled to do."