Sanders: Congress must address ‘crushing’ student loan debt

“We have a major, major crisis today … the high cost of a college education and the incredible debt burden that families are facing,” Sanders said Wednesday. “The job as Congress is to improve the situation … not to make the situation worse than it is today.”

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The House passed a student loan bill that would base the rate on the 10-year Treasury note and cap it at 8.5 percent. Senate Democrats have said that bill is unacceptable, and it was worse than doing nothing at all.

The Senate tried to pass a Democratic bill that would have extended the current rate for two years while senators worked on a long-term fix through closing three tax breaks. Sanders said he supported that measure, but Republicans successfully blocked it from reaching a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.

“When Wall Street banks borrow money today, they borrow at a rate of less than 1 percent,” Sanders said. “And we’re asking student and their families to pay more than 6 percent for college — that’s absurd.”

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) spokesman Adam Jentleson said there likely wouldn’t be a deal by the July 1 deadline because of Republican obstruction.

“There is no deal on student loans that can pass the Senate because Republicans continue to insist that we reduce the deficit on the backs of students and middle-class families instead of closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations,” Jentleson said. “Democrats continue to work in good faith to reach a compromise, but Republicans refuse to give on this critical point.”