GOP Rep. Jenkins: Democratic inaction caused student loan interest rate hike

President Obama should urge Senate Democrats to work with Republicans on legislation to reduce the interest rate on college student loans, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) the vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said on Saturday.


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Jenkins's call, in the weekly Republican address, came a week after the interest rates doubled when Congress failed to come to a deal extending the 3.4-percent interest rate.

"Republicans made every effort to stop interest rates on some student loans from doubling, as they unnecessarily did on July 1st," Jenkins said. "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."

Republicans, the White House and Senate Democrats had all pushed proposals to keep the rate from doubling. But each plan differed. Republicans and the Obama administration wanted to tie the interest rates to Treasury bond rates, which would let the rates fluctuate along with the economy. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, sought to simply extend the 3.4 percent rate for at least another year. Lawmakers were not able to reconcile their differences and last Monday the rate doubled.

"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," Jenkins said. "That’s just not right."

It's time for Obama to step in and urge Senate Democrats to back House Republicans' student rate proposal, Jenkins said.

"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," Jenkins said.

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