Floor Updates

Senator Sessions: (1:59 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Marcus Peacock.

Senator Reid: (2:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the FISA briefing.
    • SUMMARY "A number of people have said they didn't know what was going on with the intelligence situation that developed in the country, they didn't know. The program's been around for seven years. We've had a number of briefings, both classified and unclassified. We're having another one at 2:30 today, General Humphrey will be - what is his name? - Yes, Alexander, will be there and he has some new stuff he wants to lay out for us. So everyone should go. If you don't go, you have no excuse for saying you don't know what's going on. This meeting has been scheduled all week."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • At 2:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 3:30 PM for the FISA briefing.

Senator Warren: (2:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "In less than three weeks, the interest rate on subsidized student loans will double if Congress fails to act. This is not only wrong, it is unnecessary. Senator Harkin and Senator Reed have proposed a plan to hold the interest rate steady at 3.4% for two years. This will give Congress time to develop a long-term plan to address the rising burden of student loan debt, a long-term plan that keeps interest rates low and that addresses rising college costs. Now, two weeks ago, a majority of senators in this body voted to approve this temporary extension to provide a measure of relief to our families. Unfortunately, Republicans have decided to filibuster this bill, blocking a measure that has majority support. That's not the way our democracy should work."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • At a time to be determined, there will be a VOTE on S. 593, the Democrats' Student Loan bill.

Senator Burr: (2:06 PM)
  • Objected.
    • SUMMARY "The fact is that what Republicans offered was a fix. What the senator comes to the floor today to do is to have a two-year extension of a student loan program that the secretary of education admits doesn't fix the problem Let me state for my colleagues that what the senator from Massachusetts is here to do is to extend a preferred interest rate of 3.4% for two years on 39% of the student loans that are taken out. You see, current law is that for subsidized student loans, they're subsidized at 3.4%. And that preferred half, or 50% cut, is effective until the end of June. But under current law today, the unsubsidized Stafford loans are at 6.8%. The parent and graduate plus loans are at 7.9%. And my colleague's amendment only covers the subsidized Stafford loans that are 39% of all the loans that are administered. So what her proposal says is we're not going to fix it, we're going to kick the can down the road for two more years. And to the parents and to those that don't get subsidized Stafford loans, we're going to continue to charge you double what we charge other students. Now, let me just say, if you look at the math, where we are is unsustainable. Now, I understand that when we voted on a Republican alternative last week, it was the Alexander-Coburn-burr bill where we actually wanted to tie the interest rate on an annual basis to the rate of the ten-year treasury bond. And the advantage was that if you locked that in any given year, that was your interest rate for the entire life of the loan. What students want is predictability. What they want to do is understand how much is it going to cost them for their education. Not this year but over the life of having to pay it off. Well, you know what? We put a proposal on the table and it was routinely rejected, even though it was a solution, it was a fix. It was what the president's called for. It's what the secretary of education called for."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • There will be 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on the President's Student Loan bill.
    • Thereafter, there will be a VOTE on passage of the President's Student Loan bill.

Senator Warren: (2:14 PM)
  • Objected.
    • SUMMARY "We have three different kinds of problems that we need to solve. We have the problem of a trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt that is crushing our students. We have the problem of rising costs for college. We must deal with this. And we have the immediate problem of interest rates about to double for our students. We can fix one of those problems in the next two weeks. We could fix it today. We could fix it by unanimous consent right now. And then we could agree to sit down on a bipartisan basis, and we could work together to try to solve the larger problems. That's what our students are asking for."